I love gyros, the spicy lamb wrap sandwich. I confess that I used to eat them often back in the dim and distant past, before my brain transplant, when I was young and invincible, before I understood that a big fluffy warm round of pita wasn’t really health food.
Nowadays, when I enjoy the flavors of a gyro, it’s usually as a gyro salad, just strips of the barbecued spicy lamb, alongside the onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and olives on a bed of crisp greens drizzled with tzatziki.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that; a gyro salad is actually quite delicious and what I typically have when our kids in Dallas decide we should all go out for lunch or dinner to their neighborhood Greek bistro, called Ziziki’s (one of several variant spellings of tzatziki). But, somehow, eating a gyro as a salad falls just a tad short of the full Gyros Experience: wrapping your hands around the warm pita and biting into the piping hot lamb, just sliced from the rotisserie, savoring the crunch of the onions and cukes, the sweet tomatoes, the tzatziki sauce dripping down your chin.
But a gyro isn’t something one can normally make at home, since the mixture of ground lamb (and sometimes beef) and spices traditionally gets formed into a large tightly-pressed, fine-grained cylinder of meat, roasted on a vertical rotisserie, and sliced right off the sizzling hunk into thin strips with a long, very sharp knife. Most kitchens, mine included, don’t include a rotisserie large enough to accommodate the giant cylinder of meat, nor the number of diners needed to consume it readily.
So the Gyro Sandwich, for me, has become pretty much a thing of the past. A fond culinary memory.
But the other day, while I was removing some link sausages from their casings to make patties to go with our fried eggs for breakfast, it dawned on me that I could probably do the same sort of thing with the spicy lamb and mint sausages always in the butcher’s case at my local natural foods market (Lazy Acres Market when we’re in Santa Barbara and Wild Oats when we’re at our home on Lake Tahoe). I could remove them from their casings, press them into thin, flattened rectangles, grill them, and without any muss or fuss or much preparation, have pretty much the same taste experience as a gyro, right at home, any time, without all the equipment. And further more, that if I wrapped it in a warm, seasoned, low carb tortilla instead of a pita, I could even do it in a low carb way.
So I did.
If, like us, you’re a fan of gyros, give this recipe a try. It’s easy and, as Mike will attest, delicious.
Note: If you can’t find fresh lamb and mint sausage links at your butcher shop or market, you can make your own ‘gyros’ meat with ground lamb (and beef if you like) and spices. Click here for a pretty good recipe I found on the net. I’d ditch the day old bread they recommend using; the mixture should bind well enough without it.)
Easy Low Carb Gyros Wraps
Makes 4 sandwiches (each one a serving)
(multiplies easily for bigger groups)
4 large low-carb tortillas
4 fresh lamb and mint sausages (about polish dog size, 7″ long)
1 medium tomato
1 small white or yellow onion, divided use
1medium cucumber, divided use
1/2 cup plain yogurt (preferably Greek style)
1 clove garlic, crushed
8 – 10 large fresh mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (Greek, if you’ve got it), divided use
juice of 1/2 lemon
Spice mixture for tortillas
1 teaspoon each fine salt; black pepper, garlic powder, cumin.
At least 30 minutes (but up to 1 day) in advance, make the tzatziki sauce:
1. Peel and seed the cucumber. Cut in half and reserve half. Chunk the remaining half and put into the workbowl of a food processor.
2. Add the mint leaves, crushed garlic clove, yogurt, salt, pepper, onion powder, vinegar and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding a bit more salt, pepper and/or vinegar to achieve a piquant flavor.
3. Pour into a container, cover tightly, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more to develop the flavors.
Make a condiment ‘salad’ as follows:
1. Peel and thinly slice the onion and place it in a small bowl; cover with water and a splash of vinegar or lemon juice and let it soak a few minutes to take away the ‘bite’.
2. Seed and dice the tomato and the remaining cucumber half; place them into a bowl and sprinkle with a little sea salt (to taste) and pepper.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of the red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and toss gently to coat.
4. Just before serving, add the onions and toss again to combine.
When ready to grill or griddle the meat:
1. Split the sausage casings lengthwise and peel away from the meat; discard casings.
2. Press the link into a flat, thin rectangle, no more than 1/2″ thick.
3. Grill the thin patties for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes per side; remove from grill to a plate and let them rest for a few minutes. Slice each in half lengthwise before serving.
4. Brush each tortilla on one side with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with a the spice mixture for tortillas. Wrap each of the tortillas in a sheet of paper towel, roll up burrito style.
5. Just before assembling the sandwiches, microwave all four on high power for about 40 seconds until warm and softened. (If preparing more than 4, do them in batches or stack them flat with lightly-moistened paper towels between and warm them on a baking sheet in a slow oven (180 degrees) for 10 to 15 minutes.)
6. Put the platter of meat, the salad condiment, the tzatziki sauce, and the tortillas on the table for assembly by the happy gyros eaters.
To assemble the gyros:
1. Unwrap a tortilla and lay it flat on the plate.
2. Spread a tablespoon or two of tzatziki sauce onto the middle, lay on several strips of lamb, top with a mound of condiment salad and a bit more sauce.
3. Roll up, get your napkin ready, and enjoy!
4. Shout Opa!
Protein per serving: 28.8 grams
Effective carb per serving: 8.2 grams