Welcome to a new installment of Football Fridays here on Neighborfood! Today, we put a twist on one of tailgating’s iconic foods with these Greek Inspired Gyro Nachos.
Is there anything better than walking into a Greek restaurant and seeing that spinning cone of gyro meat dripping with juices behind the counter? I have to admit, I’m with Ron Swanson on this one.
With all my gyro meat love, it sure took me a long time to finally make it myself. And it took me even longer to dream up these Gyro nachos. I mean, how could I have missed such a brilliant idea? Crunchy pita chips piled high with gyro meat, lettuce, tomato, onion, banana peppers, and a creamy feta sauce? That is THE STUFF, people. It’s everything you love about a gyro…deconstructed…and crunchified.
I always figured homemade gyros were too difficult, or maybe entirely impossible since I haven’t yet found room for a full size rotisserie in my house. I imagined I’d have to sell a vital organ to get an expensive cut of lamb and then spend hours preparing it.
As it turns out, gyro meat is actually more like a greek meatloaf, and it’s about as easy to make as any American style meatloaf. Crazy, huh?
After a little bit of searching, I finally found a recipe on Serious Eats that convinced me it would deliver perfect restaurant style gyro meat. The author had done some serious research on what makes gyro meat so delicious, and his recipe incorporated everything he discovered.
The key? Marinating the meat in salt so the mixture holds in moisture, pureeing the meat so it holds together, adding bacon to increase the fat (never a bad idea), and finally slicing and broiling the individual slices of meat for that addicting crispy on to the outside, tender on the inside texture.
Science, y’all. It’s a beautiful thing.
You may recall from the ultimate homemade pie crust experiment that I do not own a food processor. So that left me pureeing meat in my blender. Sadly, it wasn’t the first time. And while it did take some stirring, and pressing, and shaking around, eventually the meat did form into a thick, pink paste.
Note: If this doesn’t look like the most disgusting thing in the planet at this point, you’re not doing it right.
From there the process is super easy. Simply shape into a loaf, bake, slice, then broil.
While the gyro meat is baking, you can whip up the sauce. You could certainly use tahini, but I prefer a thicker, creamier Greek dressing made from feta, herbs, lemon juice and a little buttermilk. Chop up a few tomatoes, some lettuce, and red onion and you’re finished.
To assemble, layer the plate with pita chips, and load up with all your gyro meat and toppings! King Gyros serves their gyros with feta and banana peppers, and it REALLY amps up the flavor so I recommend throwing some of them on as well.
Now, if you want to make this SUPER easy, you could totally skip the gyro meat and just brown some ground beef or ground lamb with onion, salt, pepper, and a little oregano. You’ll get a similar flavor with half the effort.
Pro tip: I like to double the gyro meat recipe, cook both loaves, then freeze one of them for later use. Then, whenever we get a craving for a good gyro we can simply pull it out, slice off a few pieces, and broil away. I also like to use a combination of ground beef and lamb. I love the flavor of lamb, but since it’s a little pricey, I mix it with beef to make it stretch. You could also use all beef or all lamb if you want!
Go forth and nacho, friends!
Greek Gyro Pita Chip Nachos
For the Gyro Beef
- 1/2 lb. ground lamb
- 1/2 lb. ground beef
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons oregano leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano)
- 1/2 onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 3 ounces bacon (or about 4-5 slices of bacon), cut into 1-inch pieces
For the feta dressing
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup buttermilk or milk- you can use more if you'd like it a little thinner
- 1 bag pita chips
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- Small jar banana pepper rings
- Shredded lettuce
- Mix together lamb, beef, salt, pepper, and oregano in a medium sized bowl until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Place the marinated beef mixture, onion, garlic, and bacon pieces in a food processor (or blender in a pinch) and pulse until mixture forms a smooth pink paste. It'll look gross. Try not to think about it.
- Line a small rimmed cookie sheet with foil. Shape the meat puree into a shallow loaf, about 8 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 1½ inches high. Bake for 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees.
- Allow loaf to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before slicing.
- Preheat the broiler to high and place the oven rack as close as possible.
- Slice the gyro meatloaf as thinly as possible (no more than ¼ of an inch). Lay the slices on a foil lined baking sheet and place them under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until meat is browned and crispy on the outside. Remove from oven and tent with foil to keep cool.
For the sauce:
- In a food processor, combine olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, garlic, oregano, and feta. Pulse until smooth. Add milk, a ¼ cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place pita chips on the bottom of the plate. Top with warm gyro meat, lettuce, tomato, feta, onions, banana peppers, and sauce. Serve immediately.