March 11, 2011

Chicken Gyros

While shopping last weekend, some pita bread caught my eye.   I picked up a package on a whim, thinking I'd make a batch of our Gyro Patty Sandwiches, but when it came time to actually plan out the meal, I decided I wanted to do something different.  After considering various options, I decided to make some Chicken Gyros.

Once I knew what I wanted to make, coming up with a recipe was easy.  I knew I'd want to marinate the chicken in Greek seasoning, broil it and serve it on the pitas with tomato, lettuce and a flavorful tzatziki sauce.  I came up with a preliminary recipe, then checked a few references to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything crucial.  It turns out I wasn't, and I quickly discovered that what I'd come up with was a lot like the better recipes I found online and among my cookbooks and cooking magazines, and looked better than most of the ones I found.  So, with that in mind, I made up a batch last night.

They turned out great.  The chicken is flavorful, thanks to a zesty marinade, and the broiling resulted in the chicken being a bit browned on the outside but still tender and moist on the inside.   The tzatziki is similar to versions I've made in the past, but the small differences - most notably the inclusion of a bit of vinegar - made it better than any of those other versions.   I'll be using that sauce in other dishes, and the recipe as a whole is a definite keeper.

Chicken Gyros

yield = 5-6 servings

2              tablespoons olive oil
2              tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
2              tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2              teaspoons red wine vinegar
3              large cloves garlic, minced
1              teaspoon dried oregano
3/4           teaspoon kosher salt
1/2           teaspoon ground coriander
1/2           teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2           teaspoon mustard powder
1/4           teaspoon ground cumin
2              pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts,
                sliced into thin strips

tzatziki sauce
1              cup Greek yogurt
1/2           medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1              tablespoon lemon juice
1              teaspoon rice vinegar
1              teaspoon dried dill
1/2           teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/4           teaspoon table salt

8              ounces feta cheese, chopped
1              bunch lettuce, chopped
1              can diced tomatoes, drained (or 2
                ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped)
5-6          pita bread rounds, warmed

Add the olive oil, 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt, two tablespoons lemon juice, the red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, kosher salt, coriander, mustard powder, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and the cumin to a zipper-lock bag.  Shake to mix, then add the chicken strips.  Seal the bag, shake to thoroughly coat the chicken and refrigerate 1/2 hour.

Place an oven rack at the second lowest setting and heat the oven to broil.  Prepare a broiling pan by lining the inside with foil and spraying the rack with nonstick cooking spray.

While the oven is heating up, mix the tzatziki sauce ingredients in a small bowl, then cover with plastic wrap and set aside.  Chop the lettuce and feta, and drain (or chop) the tomatoes.  

Spread half of the chicken strips atop the rack of the broiling pan, leaving some space between them.   Broil 3 minutes, flip the chicken strips, then broil another 3 minutes.  Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate, cover with foil and repeat with the remaining chicken.  Serve by spreading tzatziki sauce atop a pita, adding a few chicken strips, then topping with lettuce, tomato and feta. 

Cooking Tip:
To quickly prep the cucumber, first peel it, then halve it lengthwise.  Use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds from one half of the cucumber, then cut it lengthwise into thin strips, then crosswise to make a fine dice.

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