Chicken Gyro with Tahini and Scallion Yogurt
by Ashley Rodriguez
Serves 8 to 10
They know us by name at Mr. Gyro’s here in Seattle. I love its falafel sandwich and the kids all love the chicken gyro. For dinner one evening, I completely wowed my family by making my own version of their favorite takeout. It has since been requested for birthdays and dinners on a regular basis. The whole thing freezes beautifully, so consider doubling the recipe while you’re going through the process. This recipe usually lasts us a couple of meals. Fried up in the morning with a side of soft scrambled eggs is our favorite.
2 cups / 40 g packed fresh leafy herbs (parsley, mint, chives, dill, cilantro), minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
2 pounds / 900 g ground chicken (a mixture of light and dark meat is best)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup / 230 g whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 to 10 pita breads
1 cup / 120 g crumbled feta cheese
Roasted Lemon Tahini (recipe follows)
Scallion Yogurt (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C and spray a 9 x 5-inch / 23 x 12.5 cm loaf pan with nonstick spray.
Place the herbs, garlic, and lemon zest in a food processor. Process until minced. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Add the ground chicken, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, yogurt, and sea salt to the food processor, then process until everything is very well combined and the meat is very finely ground.
Sear a small piece of this mixture in a skillet until cooked through. Let it cool slightly, then taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Firmly press this meat mixture into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the middle reads 155° to 160°F / 68° to 71°C; as the meat rests it will come up to 165°F / 74°C.
Remove from the oven and let the meat cool completely. Cover with parchment, top with a couple of glasses or other weighted objects, then refrigerate overnight.
When you’re ready to eat, cut 1/4- to 1/2-inch / 6 mm to 1.3 cm slices. Sear in olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Serve with warm pita, crumbled feta, roasted lemon tahini, and scallion yogurt.
ROASTED LEMON TAHINI
MAKES 1 CUP / 260 G
1 lemon, halved
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup / 130 g tahini
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Set a skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat. Place the lemon halves, flesh-side down, in the pan and sear until softened and charred, 3 to 5 minutes. Let the lemon cool.
In a blender, combine the garlic and tahini and purée until smooth .Add the sea salt, juice from the charred lemon, and 1/2 cup / 120 ml of water. Blend until creamy. Feel free to add more water to reach your desired consistency. You can use this as a dip or make it quite loose for a vinaigrette. As it sits, it tends to tighten up a bit so you may need to add more water before serving.
Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
MAKES 1 CUP / 240 G
5 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1 cup / 10 g fresh mint leaves, minced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup / 230 g whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, combine the scallions, mint, garlic, lemon zest and juice, yogurt, sea salt, and pepper. Stir well. Taste and adjust as needed.