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May 7, 2010 11:34 PM

Making Gyro/Donair meat....

This seems like a great money saving fun cooking experiment.. I have no experience with it though, so I'm looking for some tips..

Anyone have a great recipe, or tips for achieving really tasty gyro meat?

Is it possible to cook a loaf of it, and freeze portions for defrost and roasting later? Will long freezing ruin/really alter the meat (multiple weeks/months)?

What about freezing the uncooked meat? Food safety concerns b/c of different meat mixing?

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  1. I guess storage is really the big question -- freeze uncooked loaves, or cooked/slightly cooked ones? What is going to not ruin the meat's texture?

    1. The only recipe I've seen is from an Alton Brown show, he made it two ways: on a rotisserie on the grill, and for those with no rotisserie, in a loaf pan. Never tried it myself, but it is on my "to cook" list:

      2 Replies
      1. re: janniecooks

        I have made Alton Brown's version twice now. It isn't bad actually. [Edited to say... it is actually pretty good but not identical to a well-done restaurant gyros.] I increased some of the spices and added more garlic the second time. The trick is to get the meat mixture tight enough so that is doesn't fall off the rotisserie. We used a horizontal rotisserie over a charcoal fire.

        What we don't get with the home method is that lovely crisping on every piece. Could probably reproduce that if I placed the sliced pieces in a fry pan. Instead, we carve the gyro in a way that every serving has some of the original 'outside.'

        Anyhow, great way to use the leftover lamb pieces when I break down legs and shoulders.

        I have never frozen this. Instead, I reduce the recipe to match the bits of lamb I have to grind which is generally in the 1 lb range.

        1. re: smtucker

          Yeah, I was thinking of shaving off what I want, and putting it under the broiler.

          A lot of U.S. gyro places just shave it off and put it directly on the pita. The really good gyros I've had in Germany, always put the shaving under a second broiler to get it nice and browned/crisp.

      2. I have been thinking about how to cook this meat for over a year, as I'm starting to assemble a strategy for making my own German-turkish style Döner Kebab. I will make the flatbread, the veggies will be snap, am not sure how I'll make the hot sauce (Scharfe Sosse). But the meat will be trickiest, because it's not simply a matter of cooking the stuff through like a meatloaf but also searing the outside (which sellers usually shave off to order).

        One thought I have is simply to buy the meat alone from a gyros place with a vertical rotisserie and then rush home. I am also wondering whether a broiler or even a blowtorch at home might do the job.

        Note too, that Döner meat is not always in loaf form: another approach is to layer thin slices of marinated lamb onto a skewer in a huge stack, with interleaved seasonings and fat or ground meat layers and a fat cap on top. Check out this Youtube thing:

        Anyway, this is a very tough food item to execute in smaller quantities at home.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Bada Bing

          I'm thinking the exact same thing -- I just got back form Berlin a couple months ago.

          I was thinking about putting the cooked shavings in a pan under the oven's broiler, which is basically what they do in the shop. Their spit is basically just a vertical broiler.

          If you come across the perfect recipe for the three sauces, let me know. In all reality, those sauces probably come form the same mass produced source, and can be cheaply bought (even in the U.S.) I'm heading out the door to a German bakery/grocery right now. I'll ask if they have an existing product supplier who carries them -- know the german sauce names?

          1. re: Russel Shank

            Let me know what you hear about the sauces. My recollection is that the Turkish-German red sauce is a cross between ketchup and sriracha.

            1. re: Bada Bing


              What are the other ones -- "garlic sauce" and the lighter/less be-speckled sauce (tzatziki?)

              If you have any friends there and can find out the German names, pass them along. I went there today, but most workers aren't German, let alone Berliners -- by description alone, I don't think they'll put much effort into inquiring with their suppliers.

              1. re: Russel Shank

                If you need a Tzatziki sauce recipe, I can help you out. That is a garlic, yogurt and cucumber sauce... only sauce I have ever had on gyros.

                1. re: smtucker

                  The German-Turkish Döner Kebabs are not the same as Greek gyros in saucing, bread or veggies. Regarding sauce, I think that a white sauce was among the street-vendor options, but I always preferred a red spicy sauce. In my memory--it's been many years--the sauce is like mixing equal parts ketchup, sriracha and maybe a dash of worcestershire.

        2. Whether you use a ground lamb layering method or individual slices of lamb, IMO the most important issue is ensuring that the meat is cooked to the proper internal temperature to avoid E Coli or other food borne pathogens. The commercial vendors slice thin pieces from the outer portion of the meat which, because it is continuously being exposed to the heat source, usually cooks through it's shallow outer layer (and crisps in the process) as it continues rotating. The caveat is that if they slice too fast they'll run through the fully cooked outer layer into that portion that is not cooked to a safe temperature. Ground lamb is especially risky because, in the process of grinding and shaping the "patties" for the skewer, more of the meat surface is exposed to possible contamination than the like amount of sliced pieces that we might use in the solid meat slice skewering method. I always recommend that the Donair meat be thoroughly cooked, then left on the rotisserie to maintain its temperature and crisp up the outer layer to enhance the wonderful flavor of this meat preparation.

          1. I have made a meat-loaf for gyros. Cook the meat loaf and shrink wrap to freeze in workable blocks. Thaw a block, slice thinly and quickly sear in a hot pan. The recipe for the meatloaf depends upon your taste, but it doesn't hurt to baste the meatloaf with a garlic, basic oil dressing while cooking. Not like the Parthenon, but pretty tasty.

            2 Replies
            1. re: OldTimer

              No problems with the freezer drying out the loaf/turning it into a brick? What's the longest you kept it in the freezer?

              1. re: Russel Shank

                Will keep several months. If shrink wrapped (FoodSaver) it does not suffer freezer burn. I usually use it up before freezing. I don't know how it would be if just plastic wrapped.