Friday, December 19, 2014

Yogurt Marinated Greek-Style Chicken Gyros

Last summer, my two oldest kids went on a trip to Italy, Greece, and Croatia!  Nope, I wasn't with them.  But apparently they had some really great food along the way; and ever since then, they've been asking me to make them some chicken gyros like the ones they had in Greece.  Gulp!  That's a pretty tall order!  So on a week where I was preparing for them to leave me again for a vacation week at their grandmother's house, I thought it would be a great time to show them some love by making something special before they left.  Oh and for those of you who have never had one, these fabulous sandwiches that you can pick up from the Greek street vendors are pronounced "yee-ro," not "jy-ro."

The great thing about this, is that you can make these up for people who may be coming home at different times.  Sometimes we don't all necessarily make it home at the same time in the evening. With the flexibility of this recipe, you can just take a chicken breast out of the marinade at different points, throw one on the grill pan, and let them make up their own gyro as they arrive.


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Ingredients:  (4 servings)
  • 1.5 pounds chicken
  • 1 Tbsp (~ 4 cloves) finely diced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (1 large lemon)
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, plain
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
To serve:
  • flatbread/pocketless pita breads
  • homemade tzatziki
  • red onions
  • tomatoes
  • lettuce
  • feta cheese 
  • sprinkle with smoked paprika 
Step-by-Step:
First - I do highly recommend the homemade tzatziki with this recipe!  You will be happy you did.  :) It is not hard to make at all.  It's actually best if you make it ahead of time - several hours or even a day ahead.

For the marinade.  Add all the ingredients together for the marinade.  Our marinade will be full of protein in addition to all these flavors because of the Greek yogurt.

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt  +  1 Tbsp finely diced garlic  +  2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp red wine vinegar  +  2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (~1 large lemon)

1 Tbsp dried oregano.  Now mix it all together.  Now smell it.  Mmmmm....

Okie dokie.  Step 2.  Let's prepare the chicken.  I purchased "thinly cut" chicken breasts as a time saving step.  These have already been cut in half.  If yours aren't you may need to cut the top from the bottom.
I placed them into a big gallon-sized zip-top bag and pounded them out, just to make sure that they were uniform thickness.  That will accomplish a few of things.  First, it will make sure that they cook uniformly.  Second, it will tenderize them.  Third, if they are even thinner, they will cook even faster.
Now dump the marinade into the bag over the flattened chicken.
You can work the marinade around to make sure it's all evenly distributed and then just shove the chicken in the fridge somewhere for a few hours and go about your business.  I love marinating things in a zip-top bag.  It takes up so much less space because you can just squish it somewhere.
Allow the chicken to marinate anywhere from 1 hour to about 3 hours.  In my opinion, the chicken after the 3 hours is best.

Grill on a really nice and hot grill or grill pan.  Now is when you want to add the salt and pepper.  I like to cook with kosher salt.  I find it harder to oversalt.  

Leave it alone while it's cooking.  It should release easily when it's ready to turn.  See the beautiful grill marks it will leave?  If you don't have a grill pan, you really should ask Santa for one.  :)  Allow the chicken to rest a few minutes before cutting into it.

While the chicken is resting, you can warm your flatbreads.  I don't recommend trying to serve them cold.  They will just tear.  If you don't have a gas stove, you could wrap them in a damp towel and steam them in the microwave a bit.  But blistering them over the fire is my favorite way to do it.  Be sure you use some long-handled tongs for this job! 
See how pretty?  Do both sides, obviously.
Now build your gyro.  Take your warm flatbread.  Slice up that juicy chicken.  Add some homemade tzatziki, and all the trimmings!  *Tip - You can pick up these little pop up foil sandwich wrappers in the grocery section that sells plastic wrap, aluminum foil, etc.  That way, you can serve it just like the street venders.  Another plus, it really helps to hold them together while you eat them, or wrap them up to go in someone's lunch.

TaDA!  How gorgeous is this?!  And oh my gosh, it was so juicy and delicious!

You may be wondering if my gyros passed the test with Mr Picky Palate?  He said they tasted very much like what they had in Greece and the flavors were right.  He gave the official stamp of approval.  Except in Greece, they serve them sprinkled with smoked paprika on top, so he added some to his.  I tried it.  It did have a nice flavor sprinkled over the top... so that gives you something else to consider.  Ha!

I hope you enjoyed this simple and delicious recipe!
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Written Method:

First - I do highly recommend the homemade tzatziki with this recipe!  You will be happy you did.  :) It is not hard to make at all.  It's actually best if you make it ahead of time - several hours or even a day ahead.

For the marinade.  Add all the ingredients together for the marinade.  Our marinade will be full of protein in addition to all these flavors because of the Greek yogurt.

Step 2.  Prepare the chicken.  I purchased "thinly cut" chicken breasts as a time saving step.  I placed them into a big gallon-sized zip-top bag and pounded them out, just to make sure that they were uniform thickness.  That will accomplish a few of things.  First, it will make sure that they cook uniformly.  Second, it will tenderize them.  Third, if they are even thinner, they will cook even faster. Now dump the marinade into the bag over the flattened chicken.  You can work the marinade around to make sure it's all evenly distributed and then just shove the chicken in the fridge somewhere for a few hours and go about your business.  I love marinating things in a zip-top bag.  It takes up so much less space because you can just squish it somewhere.

Allow the chicken to marinate anywhere from 1 hour to about 3 hours.  In my opinion, the chicken after the 3 hours is best.  Grill on a really nice and hot grill or grill pan.  Now is when you want to add the salt and pepper.  I like to cook with kosher salt.  I find it harder to oversalt.  
Leave it alone while it's cooking.  It should release easily when it's ready to turn.  See the beautiful grill marks it will leave?  If you don't have a grill pan, you really should ask Santa for one.  :)  Allow the chicken to rest a few minutes before cutting into it.

While the chicken is resting, you can warm your flatbreads.  I don't recommend trying to serve them cold.  They will just tear.  If you don't have a gas stove, you could wrap them in a damp towel and steam them in the microwave a bit.  But blistering them over the fire is my favorite way to do it.  Be sure you use some long-handled tongs for this job! Do both sides, obviously.

Now build your gyro.  Take your warm flatbread.  Slice up that juicy chicken.  Add some homemade tzatziki, and all the trimmings!  *Tip - You can pick up these little pop up foil sandwich wrappers in the grocery section that sells plastic wrap, aluminum foil, etc.  That way, you can serve it just like the street venders.  Another plus, it really helps to hold them together while you eat them, or wrap them up to go in someone's lunch.

6 comments:

  1. Nice recipe, Julie! I love gyros and now I have a craving.Just might have to be on the table tonight!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love Greek food, and alas . . . no Greek restaurant here in Fairhope! This looks great and not so complicated. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. Hope you'll give it a shot! :)

      Delete
  3. I want to know where in Hattiesburg you found pocketless pita bread. I went to four supermarkets and all I could find were the ones that had been cut into pockets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used flatbreads from the Canebrake Corner Market. Improvisation is a wonderful thing. :)

      Delete

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