120/18 – Chicken Gyros:
Number three in my series of recipes developed for Angus & Oink and this is one I have really been looking forward to cooking – Chicken Gyros.
What is a Gyro?
Years ago, before we had kids we went island hopping a few times around Greece and visited loads of island including some I had never heard of before. On the first trip I remember walking up a little street and smelling some fantastic food. As we got closer there was meat on a spit and the sign said they were selling gyros for some ridiculously low price. Intrigued, we tried one each and fell in love with gyros from that point!
A gyro is meat cooked on a spit, usually pork but can be chicken also. Usually most places have pork spits cooking but in a busy location or at weekends you tend to see chicken too. The meat is cooked slowly on a vertical spit then trimmed off thinly as it cooks. This meat is placed into an oiled and grilled pita bread (these are more like flatbreads, nothing like the pita bread we get in the supermarket) along with tzatziki, onion, tomatoes and chips.
Here is one I ate on our recent trip to Crete:
How much for this bundle of taste? Three euros! What a bargain.
The shop had pork gyros available most days but at the weekend when it was busy and catering more for locals they had chicken gyros on. I have eaten mainly pork gyros over the years but my goodness the chicken gyro is incredible. Not sure why it’s so different but there is a flavour explosion in there, it’s definitely saltier than the pork but in a good way. The combination of flavours and the grilled meat works well. It was a chicken gyro I wanted to recreate and I managed to get a few tips from the guys in the grill house whilst I was out there. After three weeks in the resort and eating most of my lunches they were used to seeing me and were happy to help me out.
Here are the other two recipes developed so far for Angus & Oink:
Four packs of chicken thighs from Gartmorn Farm. I mainly cook only with chicken from these guys these days as it’s some of the highest quality and best tasting chicken I have eaten to date. Quite hard to get quality chicken thighs off the bone but Gartmorn sell it that way which is handy. 585g per pack at £6.73 so total cost was £26.92 but that is 2.3kg of premium quality meat. Cheaper than comparable quality beef or lamb and you wouldn’t expect to lose much weight off it during the cook.
Two lemons sliced and juiced then put in a bowl with 600g of Greek Yoghurt.
Some Greek oregano on top, about a tablespoon. I got this from Amazon:
Added to the mix was 100g of Angus & Oink Big Phat Greek seasoning. (4% of the chicken weight)
The rub contains salt, sugar, black pepper, garlic, dill, parsley, celery salt, lemon powder, onion, red bell pepper, thyme, oregano, smoked paprika, rosemary, citric acid, marjoram and cinnamon.
The chicken comes with skin on so I pulled it off. Look at the colour of the meat, glorious!
Rather than put this in a bowl I made a bag with my foodsaver, put the chicken in then topped it up with the marinade mixture.
The bag was sealed then I spent a couple of minutes moving the meat around and mixing the marinade into every surface of the chicken. The bag went into the fridge for 24 hours.
I also made tzatziki by shredding a cucumber and putting it in a bowl with 600g Greek yoghurt, two minced garlic cloves, juice of two lemons, a good portion of chopped dill, similar sized portion of chopped parsley, salt, pepper and some extra virgin olive oil. This was covered and left in the fridge for 24 hours so the flavours developed together.
On the day of the cook I made some dough for the Greek pittas. 400g strong bread flour, 18g dried yeast, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 175 ml milk and 115 ml lukewarm water. All the dried ingredients are added to a bowl and mixed slowly before the wet ingredients are added (add the yeast to the wet ingredients).
I tipped the chicken out of the bag and into a tray.
I slowly threaded the chicken onto the Weber rotisserie. Prongs at the bottom, chicken over the central spike and slotted onto the side prongs. Once half the chicken was done I slotted the rest over the central prong then attached the other skewers and pushed the chicken up into those prongs before bringing both sides together.
I had filled a chimney starter with Oxford Charcoal Oak Lumpwood and once fully lit I poured it into charcoal baskets set to each side of the kettle so the rotisserie could run through the middle to cook indirectly. A chunk of apple smoking wood from Smokewood Shack was added to each side.
Whilst the chicken was cooking I prepared the chips. Get some potatoes that are good for chips like Maris Piper, King Edward or Russet. I sliced them, par boiled them then drained them and left them to one side. Next I made rosemary salt to season the chips but finely chopping rosemary leaves, adding Maldon sea salt then bashing it to a fine dust with a pestle and mortar.
50 minutes in the chicken was taking on a great colour. Internal temperature according to the Meater probe was around 60C so it needed a bit more cooking yet.
Another 15 minutes and the chicken was around 70c in most places on the Thermapen. The colours really were looking awesome now and I was looking forward to the charred bits.
Whilst the chicken was cooking I had been cooking the Greek pittas in a skillet on the Thuros T1. Shaped as round as possible by hand then lightly scored (stops it puffing up when cooking but also helps roll it round later).
The Lodge cast iron pan was nice and hot, I brushed it lightly with rapeseed oil then put the bread in then pan.
After a few minutes I oiled the other side and flipped it over. Key trick I learnt with the bread, once its cooked put it in a freezer bag. The heat generates a bit of steam in the bag which helps to keep the bread soft and that makes it easy to roll them. Using this method the leftover bread stayed soft for a couple of days.
The Thuros did a sterling job with the bread. Only used a small bit of space and two fistfuls of charcoal to cook all the bread.
As the outside of the meat was ready I carefully sliced off the outside edge as thinly as possible. I used a sharp kitchen knife from Nisbets for this – only £16.99 but sharp as a razor.
These bits were ready to eat.
Outside edge sliced, rotisserie back on the grill.
Time to Plate Up:
Pitta bread, generous spread of tzatziki, sliced onion and sliced tomatoes.
Add some meat on top.
Followed by the chips and a sprinkling of the Greek oregano. Time to roll it up.
Time to Eat:
The bread rolled up easily as it was so soft. We kept the filling light on the first one as we wanted to make sure we could actually roll it and contain the contents!
After the first batch got eaten I sliced off the rest of the chicken, there was loads of it.
Round two required a larger amount of filling in the bread.
As I said at the start we have eaten a lot of gyros over the years and I was really hoping we could get something close to the taste of what we have eaten on our travels. When I had the first bite of this it blew me away because it tasted exactly the same as the chicken gyros we ate in Crete this summer and maybe even a little bit better!
The chicken was awesome, really, really tasty. Very tender and the marinade had worked well to carry the flavours to every slice of the meat. The Big Phat Greek rub from Angus & Oink was spot on as it had all the flavours of the Greek grill house inside. The rosemary salt on the chips was fantastic, such a great flavour. Will use this on chips and potatoes in future I think.
On previous cooks it’s been very difficult to get soft breads but these were awesome. We brought some breads back from Greece to use in case I couldn’t get mine right but without sounding big headed mine tasted better.
|Cook Duration:||Medium: 2/5|
|Cook Equipment:||Weber Kettle and Thuros T1|
|Cook Method:||Rotisserie / Cast Iron Pan|
|Charcoal:||Oxford Charcoal Oak|
|Cook time:||About an hour|
|Internal temperature:||70c (Thermapen)|
|Notes:||Wouldn’t really change much.|
The Big Phat Greek rub from Angus & Oink is £6 for 100g. You can buy it by clicking the picture below:
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