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Aug 31, 2011 08:04 AM

I've Acquired A Real Gyros Broiler...

The vertical kind you see in Middle Eastern and Greek restaurants, that has a rotating spit. It looks like it's from about the late 70s. It's a smaller one, not exactly a "full-size" commercial one. My boyfriend's father and uncles ran a restaurant in Greektown Chicago and this is the one they used. I couldn't let it go into the trash!

However I have absolutely no idea how to use it, or how to make the actual meat to go on it. I've done quite a bit of research on this and it seems some people make a finely ground meat mixture to pack onto the spit (how the heck does it stick and not fall off?) and some wind strips of meat around it (sounds really difficult). Also the instructions people give on preparing everything, cooking and slicing are sometimes a bit hard to understand.

Can anyone give me straightforward, concise instructions on how to make gyros on this broiler? I'd like to keep it as authentic as possible, whether the info you have is for Greek style gyros or for shwarma.

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  1. This is based on what I saw in Turkey and Greece, but I am sure the health police would die of apoplexy.

    You use lamb or mutton. The highest and best use for that chopped concoction used in the states is for shoe repair. Slice the meat 1/4 inch thick and pierce it on the skewer. The meat should be one inch from your burner element. Trim to fit. About every inch, add a layer of mutton fat with the herb of your choice. Marjoram in Turkey. Never saw onions or garlic used.

    Scratch yourself wherever it itches and proceed to more layers. Don't worry about the flies as they don't eat much. At this point you will have over $50.00 invested and you will understand why these things are not used in the home.

    Here is how you cheat. Instead of lamb, use turkey. It soaks up the strong mutton flavor from the fat and use plenty of garlic powder. This was chronic in Germany during the fests. Lamb during the day when people could see and taste what they were eating, turkey after the beer and schnaps had taken effect. At lamb prices.

    Be very careful on your temp as you want to have it cooked at least one inch in before you start cutting with an electric carving knife. Obviously increase the temp as you cut it away from the heating element.

    Don't forget to core your cucumber before you grate it for the tzatziki.

    1. Not much to add to the above... I think it is spot on. Especially the part about "these things are not used in the home..."

      Even the smallest of these things are built to take those large cones of meat they get from restaurant supply houses and which run from 10 to 40 pounds each and are designed to last through a busy lunch rush. You can use them to make doner kebabs or tacos al pastor as well but they're a bit ungainly for dinner for two. Or four. Or ten.

      Remember, this thing isn't designed to cook a roast where the whole thing will be done at once. It's designed to provide a continual flow of servings that are ready a few at a time over the course of a few hours. The outer ring will be cooked while the inside is raw.

      But certainly you could take any meat you like and layer it with onions and garlic and spices and do anything you like with it, or make a fine grind in your Cuisinart with all the same ingredients of your choice and some binder and just mound it on the spit and it should hold together just fine. But I would think such a small amount will be far from the heat and will take forever to cook. But I guess it would work eventually.

      Most of what I saw in Greece was pork, but you could use Beef or Lamb if you like. Would a Chicken fit? That might be interesting, a vertical rotisserie chicken.

      I assume it's electric. Is it the right voltage for your house?

      Wait, just hit me... Do you no longer have access to your boyfriend or his father and/or uncles for advice on this? I would think they could steer you in the right direction on this...

      11 Replies
      1. re: acgold7

        Ok, I wasn't planning on using this inside my house, ever. That would probably result in a gigantic mess. My plans were for outdoor cooking. Yes, it's electric but I'm not sure what voltage it is.

        My boyfriend's father passed away years ago and he never learned how to work the broiler or make the meat for gyros as they closed the restaurant quite a while ago. One uncle still lives in Chicago but they don't talk very often, and I think he's probably not up for a gyros making lesson any time soon.

        The turkey idea is interesting! When my bf traveled in Germany he says they served gyros with sauerkraut, but no mention of turkey meat.

        I hadn't thought of whole chickens, that's a good idea. I bet it's just big enough to hold two large chickens on the spit. Like I said, it's really nowhere near as large as a regular commercial model.

        1. re: IrisLaRue

          Pork in Greece!! Sauerkraut on gyros in Germany!!! I have got to get back to see the cultural changes. A lot has happened in 15 years. I guess this mirrors what is served in Chinese restaurants in the U.S. or London for that matter.

          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

            Yeah, I was surprised to find very little lamb and no goat when we were there. Souvlaki, for example, was almost exclusively pork and always had onions layered between the very small (no more than 1/2") cubes. No pita or hummus, either -- those are Turkish and they only have pita for gyros because Americans expect them. The meat in the Gyros could be anything -- varied depending upon what town we were in but did not appear to be lamb very often -- lacked the distinctive lamb flavor and color.

            Lamb seemed to be reserved for whole roast on a spit -- we were there during Easter, a Very Big Deal -- or stewed.

            Iris, I think when we were saying these things aren't for the home, we were really referring to the quantities and methodologies of cooking, not the actual location inside your kitchen. About the voltage, if the plug fits in your outlets, it's the correct voltage, no worries.

            1. re: acgold7

              My guess is if was in a comercial kitchen it's going to be 220~240 volt

              1. re: Dave5440

                That was my thought too, but then it will have a different plug and won't fit her home outlets. So if it fits, it's fine.

        2. re: acgold7

          Mounding ground meat will not work. I tried doing this with a makeshift gyro roaster -- my Ronco Showtime Rotisserie oven! I ground the meat myself in several attempts to try to get the right texture. Flavor was there, but it kept falling off the horozontal rotisserie. It will likely fall off the vertical one too. The problem with ground meat is that you won't be able to press it well enough to keep it together while roasting. Those pseudo-lamb legs you see at the gyro stand are prepared commercially, and you can't replicate that texture (do you want to?) I never have perfected getting the meat to the right texture to keep it together, but then, I have not included any kind of binding. I wanted it to be like real gyros -- meat only, with spices.

          I'd probably go for a whole leg of lamb. Try a few chickens first to get the hang of how it cooks. You should be able to figure out the voltage by looking at it. See where the hot spots are and how close something has to be to sear. Then you can spring for the big lamb roast, or perhaps a big pork shoulder.

          1. re: RGC1982

            Well, no, it wouldn't work horizontally because you're fighting gravity. Vertically you're not -- it's just a big mound sitting there on the base, no?

            But I agree a boneless leg of lamb or pork shoulder sounds great. You'll probably need to go boneless because navigating the spit through the center if there's a bone in the way could be tricky.

            1. re: acgold7

              Boneless leg of lamb is an excellent idea! I actually prefer the strong taste of mutton but you can never find it in the States :-/

              RGC1982 you're absolutely right, I have NO desire to replicate the "fake meat" texture of bad commercial Gyros. I think the lamb leg will be perfect for this, just the right size.

              acgold7, my bf has waxed poetic about the Greek traditional Easter whole lamb roasted on a spit. He is bound and determined to make one in our fire pit in the back yard this coming Easter. He says the eyeballs are his favorite part but also likes the kidneys (ok, Andrew Zimmern Jr...)

              Thanks everyone for your great suggestions!

              1. re: IrisLaRue

                You will be able to tie it well so that it stays put. If you are planning to slice off and keep cooking, gyro style, keep that in mind when tying it.

              2. re: acgold7

                I think you are right to some degree, but you are fighting gravity either way. I ended up using the basket contraption that comes with the oven, and that seemed to work somewhat. The problem with the mound concept is that there will be a lot of meat sitting on a wet bottom end of the spit, and that will defeat the entire concept even if you can get it stay on. The OP is much better off using whole meats.

          2. Sam's Club down here in Oklahoma City sells a 30 lb gyro meat in a box. I have no idea what it's made of. I've never seen it at the Sam's Club in NH which is what I'm usually close to. But I'm sure that if you wanted, you could find another commercial source for prepared meat - at least a first pass at trying something on your machine that would eliminate both the work and questions as to whether your recipe is right for your application. Make sure you buy one of those electric slicers! ;-)

            1. Google Youtube for Doner kebab and shawerma recipes. They do not make a pressed meat product but as others have suggested layer slices marinated meat and fat.

              For example: