Updated: Feb 8
One of my guilty pleasures when our local annual fair rolls through town is to stuff myself with with a couple monster sized gyros as soon as I walk through the gates. The problem is, this is about the only chance I get to enjoy a legit gyro as the man who runs the booth is a gyro slinging legend and no one else can compete.
That's why I decided to come up with my own version using venison in place of lamb meat. As of now I don't own a gyro style rotisserie, so this one is baked in the oven. But fear not, it is still damn delicious and on top of that, its easier to make.
And if your the bread making type, I included one of my favorite roti recipes as well. I know that gyros are traditionally assembled with pita bread, but there's just something about roti that I love. I cooked these in rendered wild hog fat, so there's even more to love. You can also cook them in duck fat or clarified butter with great results.
Serves 5 people
Cooks Tips: If you don't have a meat grinder, you can process the venison in a hefty food processor. Just make sure the meat and fat are both ice cold and cut into about 1 inch pieces.
Gyro Meat Ingredients
2 pounds ground venison (around 20% should be pork fat)
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Gyro Meat Directions
Grind the venison and pork fat with a coarse die. Set aside.
In a food processor pulse the onion until it is finely minced. Pour the onions into the center of a kitchen towel. Twist the towels squeezing out all of the juice from the onions. Discard the onion juice.
Add the onion, ground venison mixture and the remaining ingredients to the food processor. Process for 1 to 2 minutes or until a thick paste has formed.
Place the meat mixture into a loaf pan and press down hard ensuring there are no air pockets left in the meat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
While the meat is chilling, pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees F.
Place the loaf pan into a water bath and cook uncovered until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Drain out any fat from the pan. Line the top of the meat with a few strips of aluminum foil.
Now you want to place something on top of the meat to weigh it down while its resting in the pan. This can be a few canned food items (you may need to cut a piece of cardboard to fit over the meat to balance the cans). If you have a brick or something similar in shape, even better. Just wrap it up and place on top of the meat. Let the meat rest while the weight is on top for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Now your gyro meat is ready to slice and serve.
Roti Ingredients (makes 5)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup- plain yogurt (don't use Greek yogurt. It's too thick)
5 teaspoons - rendered pork or duck fat (for cooking the roti)
Directions for the Roti
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix until combine. Add the yogurt and mix with your hands until the dough just starts to form and come together. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead for about two minutes. Alternately you can place all of the ingredients in a stand-mixer bowl and mix with a dough hook for about 5 minutes.
Let the dough rest for 15 minutes covered with a damp paper towel. Divide the dough into 5 pieces and roll out to around 1/8" thick circles.
Heat 1 teaspoon of the rendered fat on medium-high heat in a cast iron or non-stick skillet. Cook the roti on each side for about two minutes or until nice and golden brown. Place the roti on a dry paper towel and then repeat with the rest of the dough.