Paleo Paradise: Homemade Gyro Meat

I spent time in Europe as a teenager, and one of my favorite street foods was a Turkish doner kabob, delicious roasted meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie spit. I have always been a fan of good Greek food, even though the gyro sandwich is multicultural (with its origins in the Eastern kabobs and shawarmas) and the style varies depending on where you are in the world. Americans traditionally make their gyro meat with a mix of beef and lamb, and this is an excellent Paleo lamb recipe.

There’s no need for a fancy rotisserie — just a loaf pan, a deeper, larger pan, a decent food processor and an oven.

I adapted this recipe from Alton Brown, but I doubled the spices.

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped or shredded
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dried marjoram
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Start with the onion. Grate it finely into a bowl and strain the liquid out. This is very important for keeping the gyro meat together later.

Pulse the grated onion in the food processor with the diced garlic and other spices. Once the spices have all been blended thoroughly and diced as small as possible, add the ground lamb. (If your grocer doesn’t have ground lamb on the shelf, ask the butcher to grind up a roast cut. Usually they are happy to do it, and freshly ground meat will make the gyros even better.)

Note: You might need to mix the meat and spices a small amount at a time, depending on how good your food processor is. Mine bit the dust after struggling to pulse the last bit of lamb into a meaty goo … RIP, food processor. The gyros were worth it. I regret nothing.

Pack the mixture into a loaf pan lined with foil (this increases the crispiness on the edges), and be sure to squeeze the meat mixture into the corners. Place the loaf pan in a larger pan halfway full of water (i.e., a water bath). Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 325 degrees, or until the internal temperature of the meat is 170.

Next, drain off any extra fat on top of the meat loaf, and place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and a foil-wrapped brick (or something else heavy, say, a cast-iron skillet or a fat cookbook) directly on the foil-covered meat. Let it rest that way for at least 20 minutes.

 

gyros recipe card

If you like, before using the meat in a sandwich, salad, breakfast dish, or main course, crisp the slices of meat in a hot skillet.

If you are cooking or eating Paleo, there are several delicious meals you can whip up in no time. I sauteéd sliced onions and sliced zucchini with a handful of frozen spinach, then added the sliced meat …

This simple stir-fry also doubled as a great to-go breakfast the next day with a couple of eggs …

Of course, you can also add plenty of cheese and homemade tzatziki (plain yogurt, diced cucumber, mint, oil and vinegar) if you’re not counting calories or eating Paleo.

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Delish dishes from your Thanksgiving leftovers

If you’re anything like me, by the time this long Thanksgiving weekend draws to a close, you still have surplus of potatoes, both cooked/mashed and uncooked on the shelf, as well as a bowl of stuffing (or perhaps an extra box of Stove Top up in the cupboard).

In my house, the delicious and juicy slivers of turkey and ham always seem to disappear first, usually into little makeshift sandwiches using leftover rolls, or tossed into post-Thanksgiving breakfasts. Plus, usually my family boils down the turkey carcass on Friday, making a nice turkey-rice or turkey-noodle soup, so maybe by Saturday and Sunday, you’re kind of turkeyed out! But the potatoes and the stuffing always seem to hang around. I found these two excellent recipes for utilizing leftover mashed sweet potatoes and leftover stuffing, and gave them my own little spin.

Sweet Potato and Carmelized Onion Shells

I adapted this recipe from this one from Taste of Home, but I used my own homemade carmelized onion chutney instead of carmelizing onions for this on the spot. I also made it just a little healthier, omitting the turkey gravy at the end (not necessary at all) and using some lovely cheese left over from my cheese plate instead of gorgonzola. I also left the shells uncooked and then baked them in chicken stock for added flavor. Obviously you should feel free to adapt this recipe both based on your tastes and what you have left in your fridge.

  • 1/2 jar (about 4 ounces) carmelized onion chutney
  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (milk and butter were added when they were cooked for Thanksgiving)
  • 1 package jumbo pasta shells (uncooked)
  • 6 oz. (approx.) gorgonzola or other tangy cheese
  • 2-3 oz. grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups (approx.) chicken or turkey stock
  • garlic powder, salt and pepper, poultry seasoning (about 1 tsp. each, to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the mashed potatoes, carmelized onion chutney, cheese and spices and spoon the mixture into each individual pasta shell. Place into a baking dish and pour the stock into the baking dish.

Make sure the liquid touches the shells but doesn’t cover everything. Essentially everything is cooked except the shells, so cover and bake until the shells are tender (about 25-20 minutes). The mixture will be nice and bubbly. Then top with parsley and grated cheese, and bake another 10 minutes until the cheese is nice and browned.

This is soooooo delicious. Why did I never think of this before? I want to try this again with garlicky mashed potatoes and other variations.

It’s also nice to have a good savory breakfast dish. I have to admit, this looked so good, I might have to make this all year round. Mark Bittman, master of all things simple and delicious, posted this lovely recipe for eggs baked in stuffing, and once again the universe opens up a way for me to use this awesome carmelized onion chutney again (yeessssss).

Eggs Baked in (Leftover) Stuffing

(This can be made in a casserole dish or individual ramekins.)

  • 2-3 cups leftover stuffing, cooled or at room temperature
  • 1 cup carmelized onion chutney
  • 6 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated cheddar or pepper jack cheese (optional)

Grease your baking dish or individual ramekins, and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Alternate stuffing and chutney (I used stuffing, then a spoonful of chutney, then more stuffing on top), then crack an egg into each ramekin — or make a crater in the stuffing in your dish and crack the egg into it. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the eggs have set. If you are using ramekins, put them in a baking dish filled halfway with water.

About halfway through cooking, I added a bit of grated cheese to the top of each egg.

I am usually not coherent enough first thing in the morning to make an adequate breakfast, so these are ideal for me. They’re perfect to make the night before and wrap up for the next day’s breakfast, or to enjoy while they’re warm!