These pan-fried ground lamb patties flavored with mint, onion, and minced garlic and tucked into a pita mimic a traditional Greek gyro.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: We wanted restaurant-style Greek gyros—slices of shaved, marinated lamb, tomato slices, crisp lettuce, and cooling cucumber-yogurt sauce stuffed inside a soft pita—that we could make at home. Rather than the traditional shaved slices of meat from a vertical rotisserie, we pan-fried ground lamb patties flavored with mint, onion, and minced garlic. To make the patties juicier, we added a panade (a paste of fresh bread crumbs and lemon juice), using pita for the bread crumbs. Cooking the patties in a hot oiled skillet ensured a crisp outside and juicy interior. Topped with the cucumber-yogurt sauce, these home-style gyros are a satisfying
alternative to the real deal. You can substitute 85 percent lean ground beef for the lamb. If using pocketless pitas, do not cut the top 2 inches off the pitas as directed in step 2; instead, use a portion of a third pita to create the pieces. When cooking the patties, use a splatter screen to keep the mess to a minimum. Serve with sliced tomato, shredded lettuce, and feta cheese in addition to the yogurt sauce.
¼cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and chopped fine
Salt and pepper
2 (8-inch) pita breads
1 small onion, chopped fine
4 teaspoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons minced fresh mint or dill
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces ground lamb
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
3. Process pita pieces, onion, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons mint, half of garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper in food processor to smooth paste, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Transfer mixture to large bowl and mix in lamb with hands until thoroughly combined. Pinch off and roll meat mixture into 6 balls, then flatten into ½-inch-thick patties.
2. Meanwhile, trim 2 inches from each pita bread, then tear pita scraps into 1-inch pieces. (You should have about ⅓ cup pita pieces.)
1. Toss cucumber and ⅛ teaspoon salt together and let drain in colander for 30 minutes.
4. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Gently place patties in skillet and cook until well browned and crusted on first side, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip patties, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until well browned and crusted on the second side, about 5 minutes. Transfer patties to paper towel–lined plate and tent loosely with aluminum foil.
5. Combine yogurt, drained cucumber, remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice, remaining 2 teaspoons mint, and remaining garlic in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Microwave trimmed pitas until warmed, about 30 seconds. Nestle 3 patties inside each warm pita, drizzle with yogurt sauce, and serve.