May 31, 2005

Gyro Meat

My contribution to the weekend's BBQ was Gyro Meat Roll. I based the basics on a show from Alton Brown.

Thanks to Melissa for the pictures! I was up to my arms in cooked lamb and didn't get to take as many as I would have liked.

Rolled Gyro Meat
The Magical Mystery Roll

Gyro meat is one of those things that "I never realized people actually made." (to quote someone at the BBQ). They're right. It seems like the roll appears out of nowhere pre-made. But obviously, the recipe comes from someplace, and it isn't a factory. Here's what I did (recipe makes a 6 lb gyro roll, which is enough for probably 20-30 medium sized servings. You can easily make this anywhere from 2-6 pounds in size. I've scaled the spices for 6 pounds, but hopefully obvious division can be done by the home reader):

- 4 lbs leg of lamb, trimmed of most fat (I think I should have left more of the fat on for moistness and flavor)
- 2 lbs beef trip tip (optional, you can use just lamb, but I happened to have this extra tri-tip around)
- 1 head garlic, minced -or- 3 tsp granulated garlic
- 3 T marjoram, dried
- 3 T rosemary, dried
- 3 T kosher salt
- 3 T black peppercorns
- 3 medium or 2 large onions

The night before:
- Cut the meat into 3/4-1 inch cubes (no need to be precise here)
- Place all remaining incredients except for the onions into a food processor, grind until peppercorns are, uh, ground and everything is a fine powder.
- toss spices over meat cubes, seal in a zip-top bag in the fridge
- Grind onions in food processor (no need to clean from previous spice blend) until a complete mush/paste
- Place onions in a towel/cheesecloth, twist the top, and squeeze very hard until as much of the water comes out as possible (these two steps will leave you in tears if you are sensitive to onions -- I'm not due to contact lenses and even I was having some trouble here)
- Seal up onions in zip-top bag and place in the fridge as well.

The next day:
- Toss meat and the ground onions in a bowl.
- Working in batches, grind meat cubes in food processor until course grind
- Toss meat again to make sure well distributed
- Working in batches, re-grind meat to form a paste (yes, it will look over ground)
- Return meat to bowl and layer back in the batches, trying not to get any large air pockets between them. Press/form into a roll.

Alton in his show used either a rotisserie grill, or baked it in the oven. I chose a different method that seems to work pretty well. After grinding, the meat is wrapped very tightly in several layers of heavy foil. You pull the foil tight like when making compound butter to keep it in a nice round log shape. Stash in the fridge for a few hours to make sure it firms up.

Gyro Cooking Start
Starting to Grill

Since this was a gas grill, I cooked the meat over a low-ish heat with a large foil pan on top of it (I'm not sure that last part was needed). Every 15 minutes or so, I rotated the roll about 90 degrees to make sure that cooking took place from all sides. A probe thermometer inserted into the end of the meat monitored the temperature.

It took about an hour and a half to bring the internal temp up to 165. I probably could have stopped short of that. The final product is more well cooked than most lamb dishes on purpose. You certainly want it to be mostly cooked before removing from the foil -- otherwise it will far appart during final grilling.

If you use a Weber type grill (as I did the first time I tried this), you can keep the meat offset to one side and only need to turn it once or twice.

Gyro Cooking Browning
Browning the gryo

After unwrapping the meat, it will look a bit "wane". Ignore the comments of your guests concerning what the long steaming log looks like. Return to the grill over direct heat and cook until nicely browned on the outside. It should be pretty firm and hold together while you are cooking it.

Slicing Gyro Meat
Carving Slices

Slice long thin strips from the outside, moving around the roll after each slice. Slice from each end until all of the brown bits have been removed. You can also make slices from the non-brown parts within, but they obviously don't look as nice.

You can return the roll to the grill to re-brown another layer and slice off more slices. Or, you can cool and wrap the roll to make leftovers the next day. Re-heating can be done either by re-browning on the grill, or by making cold slices and then frying in a pan until browned.

Ready to Eat
Gyro Service Platter

Here's the classic service, with Tzatziki Sauce and Diced Tomatoes. Not really in season yet, ah well. I cheated on the bread and used a Middle Eastern Flatbread that I purchased from Trader Joe's. It's perfectly exceptable -- but maybe next time I'll also make the bread, because it was the only thing that I'd actually bought.

Posted by dowdy at May 31, 2005 10:48 AM