Pru says that when I’m on a mission, it’s best to stay out of my way. He has become adept at recognizing all the telltale signs: I stop talking mid-sentence, then get this faraway look in my eyes right before I launch into a series of non sequiturs, muttering to no one in particular. It happened recently while working on an intense work project with someone I’m lucky enough to have as my friend and self-proclaimed bossy big sister. This one’s for you Sally. ‘Cause you’re my gyro.
My Middle Eastern menu consists of beef gyros with tzatziki sauce and tahini dressing. The tzatziki is easy to make and requires very little effort beyond procuring the ingredients and slicing the cucumber paper thin, a task made easier with the use of a mandoline. For the tahini sauce, tahini paste comes in a jar, found in Middle Eastern grocery stores or Whole Foods. Or you can make your own.
The beef gyro was a little intimidating at first, but use the food processor to ground your meat to the pasty texture it’s intended to be and you will make this part of your regular dinner repertoire.
Ground beef, 1 lb
Salt and pepper to taste
Oregano, 1 tsp
garlic, 3 cloves
bacon, 3 strips
Combine ground beef, salt, pepper, and oregano in medium bowl. Mix with hands until homogeneous. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to over night. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 300°F. Place cold mixture in bowl of food processor with onion, garlic, and bacon. Process until smooth puree is formed, about 1 minute total, scraping down sides with rubber spatula as necessary.
Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. With moist hands, form meat mixture into rectangle. Pat it tightly to avoid air pockets in your meatloaf-like brick. Bake until center of loaf reads 155°F on an instant read thermometer, about 30 minutes. Allow loaf to rest at room temperature for fifteen minutes. Then refrigerate for a couple of hours as this makes it easier to slice thinly.
Adjust broiler rack to highest position (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches from broiler element) and preheat broiler. Slice loaf crosswise into 1/8th to 1/4-inch strips. Lay strips on rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and broil until edges are brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Tent with aluminum foil.
1 c Greek yogurt
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
Mix all ingredients and allow flavors to blend together for a couple of hours.
Tahini is ground sesame paste and you can find it at Whole Foods or Middle Eastern markets. It’s like peanut butter but without the sweet nutty taste. You can probably get away with omitting it but you’ve come this far, you might as well take another tahini step. Sorry I’ll stop punning now.
Finely mince or 2 cloves of garlic and mix with 1/2 cup of tahini paste, some lemon juice and olive oil to taste. The mixture should be something like very runny peanut better. When you first crack open your jar of tahini, you will find a layer of oil on top which is not only normal but awesome because of all that rich and creamy goodness. Just stir it well before using.
Stuff pita pockets with beef gyro and spoon tahini sauce and tzatziki over the beef, serve with cucumber and tomato salad.