I Say Yeer-Oh, You Say Jai-Ro, But It All Tastes the Same: Gyros and Tzatziki Sauce

Well kids, it’s the last of my favorites (for now, anyway).  The last two weeks have been a great and tasty way to celebrate my birthday.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about them.

I close out my birthday menu with the Gyro.

Again, this is nothing complicated. Like The Sandwich, you’re probably underwhelmed by my lack of originality.  Sorry to disappoint, but the Gyro is probably my favorite fast food option, and one of the best street-fest foods out there. And not just at 1 AM (thought they do seem to be the tastiest at that time…tried and tested at Oktoberfest 2009).

While it seems that the gyro is actually an American creation, it is no doubt based on the Donor Kebab that originates in Turkey.  Historians believe that the dish actually originated during Alexander the Great’s time, when his soldiers used their long knives to skewer meat and kept turning the meat over fires.

Well, I don’t have a long knife, and I didn’t cook this meal over a fire (well, at least not in the way the Great Alex did…). I did, however, do my best to recreate the flavors and essence of my favorite grab-and-go food.  Easy peasy and no doubt healthier than the one eaten by BLT at Oktoberfest…but man was that good

Ok, focus. Here’s what I did…Now, there are recipes out there that involve making a meatloaf, which I actually think would do a better job of simulating the meat on a spit that we all know and love (which is usually a mix of lamb and mutton and…other meats). I didn’t do that because I had a random lamb shank in my freezer that I used instead, so I incorporated the donor meat flavors into my marinade.  For the meatloaf-style recipe, check out Alton Brown’s recipe.  I think I’ll try that next time.

Serves 2


For the gyro:

2 pita breads

2 lamb shanks

2 TB olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 TB oregano

1 tsp rosemary

1 tsp cumin

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper



red onion



1.  Put the spices, oil, garlic and lemon into a Ziploc bag, swirl the meat around really well and let marinate for a few hours or overnight.

2.  Heat the oven to 350F.

3.  Put the lamb into an oven safe dish and cover with foil.

4.  Bake for about an hour and a half until the meat falls off the bone.


Make the sauce…

Tzatziki sauce

Enough for 2 gyros


½ cup Greek yogurt

Juice of ½ lemon

1 clove minced garlic

2 tsp mint, minced

¼ cucumber, grated

Salt and pepper

Mix it up, real good.


Assemble atop pita bread with your toppings of choice. I used lettuce, tomatoes and red onion.


I really wish I had some pickles as well, but I had already gone to the store twice, and was not about to go again for pickles.


I even wrapped it in paper to fool myself into thinking I was at the Munich Hauptbahnhof. It didn’t work, but the gyro was still tasty.




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