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Oven roasted Greek pork gyros served with tzatziki and pita bread. The best cut of pork for a Greek gyros is the shoulder or neck; and the marinade mix features smoked paprika, grated onion and lots of garlic. You’d think it was another street dish impossible to replicate at home but no – perfectly doable in the oven, just watch it because it’s a blink of an eye between crisp and burnt.
Gyros is pronounced YEE-ROWS, except when you’re ordering, then it’s YEE-ROW. It’s the declension, stupid. Next time you’re in a tavern, don’t say ‘I’d like a YEE-ROWS’ – say: ‘I’d like YEE-ROW’. Of course it will make matters much easier if you can just say the lot in Greek. But whatever the lingua, you’ll get a bowl of deliciously crispened up pork or chicken fragrant with tomato marinade; and they will think the better of you as you’ve made an effort to find out a bit about the Greek grammar.
Gyros is my favourite Greek food. Stuff your spinakopitas, take away the souvlaki, dolmades – begone. I’ll have gyros always and always, pork rather than chicken as it will get scorched nicely without being burnt to oblivion; pork being the sturdier meat. Only wimps and non-Greeks go for the chicken gyros. I’ll take pork every time – scorch it, almost burn it and then double-blast the already meltingly tender morsels of pig – and the fat and the rind will be the best bits.
You’d think it was another, after kebab, street dish impossible to make at home unless you have an industrial-size barbecue and a tall strong handsome Greek to turn the spit. I wish; but it's actually perfectly doable in the oven. The extra trick is to roast it in the oven a bit less and then blast portions in the frying pan or under red hot grill; double cooked pork is the thing, mark my words. The best thing in the whole world to stuff into pita bread - homemade won’t go amiss - and tzatziki is of course obligatory with it.
The gyros marinade recipe comes from NY Times Cooking.
pork gyrosServings: 4-6Time: 1 hour 30 minutes plus marinating overnight
- For the marinade:
- juice of 2 lemons
- 60ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 cloves of garlic, pressed
- 1 tbsp. tomato powder or puree
- 1 tbsp. smoked or sweet paprika
- 1 tbsp. fine salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- a few sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves stripped
- 1 large tomato, coarsely grated
- 1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely grated
- For the gyros:
- 1kg (2½ lb) pork shoulder
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 large tomato, quartered
- For tzatziki:
- 250g (1 cup) Greek yoghurt, strained
- 1 medium or 2 small cucumbers
- salt and pepper
- a pinch of sugar
- a small bunch of dill, chopped
- 1 tsp runny honey
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- To serve:
- warm pita bread
- diced avocado
- shredded lettuce
1. To make slicing the meat easier, put it on a plate in the freezer for an hour; it will firm up.
2. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Remove the meat from the freezer, trim the rind and slice it against the grain into 1-1 ½ cm thick slices. Add them to the marinade and stir well to coat every slice. Chill for at least an hour and up to overnight.
3. Prepare the tzatziki: peel the cucumbers and cut into small dice, scraping out the seeds if large and watery. Place it on a colander over a bowl and toss with a pinch of sugar and a large pinch of salt. Leave for half an hour in the kitchen, or longer in the fridge.
4. Spoon the yoghurt into a bowl, season with black pepper and honey, stir in the dill. Squeeze as much moisture from the cucumbers as possible and add to the yoghurt. Check for seasoning, transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with olive oil.
5. Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/gas 9. Grease a large baking tray with the 1 tbsp. olive oil. Add the quartered onion and tomato to the meat in the marinade, stir to coat; then lift the meat and onion from the marinade and spread over the baking tray in a single layer. Roast for 30-40 minutes turning the slices over halfway through if browning too much; and spooning off excess liquid if necessary. Turn off the oven and rest the meat for 10 minutes.
6. Remove the meat from the oven and cut into strips. Serve with warm pita bread, tzatziki, avocado, shredded lettuce and whatever else you fancy.