I was introduced to gyros when I was fresh out of high school. It was the early 1990’s and a small Greek kiosk had just come to the food court at our local mall. I immediately fell in love! This was something very different than the traditional PA Dutch fare I grew up on. Trips to the mall were occasionally planned over a meal so I could indulge in my new favorite food. It was during this point in my life that I learned that I had a rather adventurous palate….even if I didn’t always get to explore new flavors.
As I got older, I found that gyros were so much more than the pita sandwich from the food court. (You mean there’s cucumber in the sauce? I don’t like cucumber….or I didn’t think I did.) The flavors were so complex and paired in such a way that reward centers in my brain were overjoyed. Even so, gyros were a sometime food, as Cookie Monster says. Moderation kept each experience a treat.
Now that hubby and I are paleo, we spend a lot of time exploring our favorite foods and that ever present question, how can we make it paleo? After we both had a craving for Greek food very recently, I decided that it was time to explore gyros and see what changes needed to be made in order to make them compliant. Obviously, the tzatziki and pita were not paleo, but I didn’t have the first inclination of what went into making the gyro meat. Was there a grain based filler in it? Dairy, maybe? The answers were no and no.
The meat was surprisingly simple! We had a package of grass-fed lamb in the fridge, so I did my thing! My thing being perusing several recipes and combining them in a manner that I think will yield the results I’m looking for.
The tzatziki was going to be the tricky part. While some versions of the paleo diet allow for high quality dairy, that is a big no-no for hubby and me. He is lactose intolerant and dairy products are a migraine trigger for me. And I’ve found that not all dairy substitutes are created equal. I could have used a plain coconut or almond milk yogurt, but many times there are stabilizers and such added that just aren’t paleo. While we aren’t always 100% paleo, we try to stay as compliant as possible, especially when we’re cooking at home. But just like with the meat, I found a few recipes that looked promising and pulled the best out of each.
Both hubby and I thought that these gyros tasted pretty darned authentic! We lean more toward a low carb paleo lifestyle, so used romaine lettuce wraps rather than a gluten-free, paleo compliant pita. However, you can serve these up any way you like; lettuce wraps, paleo compliant pitas, or a Greek gyro bowl!
Homemade Lamb Gyro Meat with Paleo Tzatziki
An Authentic Greek Gyro Recipe To Make At Home
- Gyro Meat
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. fresh oregano leaves
- 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 3 oz. pork belly or mildly flavored bacon, chopped Tzatziki Sauce
- 1/2 medium cucumber, finely chopped
- 2 tsp. fresh dill
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/3 cup paleo compliant mayonnaise (or homemade)
- salt and pepper to taste
DirectionsIn a medium bowl, mix the 1 pound of ground lamb with the sea salt, black pepper, and oregano. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour or even overnight.
Preheat your oven to 350°. To finish the lamb mixture, place the seasoned ground lamb in a food processor with the onion, garlic, and pork belly or bacon. Process until you have a smooth puree, scraping down the sides as needed; approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and form the lamb mixture into an 8″ x 5″ rectangle on the baking sheet. To keep the mixture from sticking to your hands, wet your hands prior to handling the meat. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 155° at the center of the loaf. Remove from the oven and allow the meat to rest for 15 minutes.
While the meat is resting, whisk together all the ingredients for your tzatziki sauce. Set aside to allow the flavors to develop.
After the meat has rested for 15 minutes, adjust your oven rack to the highest broiling position and preheat the broiler. Slice the meat into 1/8″ – 1/4″ slices and lay them on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet under the broiler and broil until the edges are browned and beginning to crisp. Watch the meat closely, so it doesn’t burn!
To serve, place the meat in your wrap of choice (lettuce wrap or paleo compliant pita) and top with diced tomatoes, sliced onion, and tzatziki sauce. Or combine all the ingredients in a bowl with some lettuce and top with tzatiki for a Greek gyro bowl!