What to do when you run out of an essential ingredient?
I’m a spice-o-holic, there’s just no denying that. I have two kitchen cabinets completely stuffed with spices (somewhere between 100 and 150 spices, anywhere from salt & pepper to exclusive Indonesian spices). Told you I have issues!
I often buy my spices on the market. But when given the chance, I’d rather shop around those beautiful, authentic Chinese, Greek, Turkish or Moroccan stores we have downtown. It’s cheaper, you also run into other great items, you get to meet interesting people along the way, and possibly even learn some great recipes.
Today I ran out of my beloved gyros spice mix. When making gyros, it’s very important to get the spice mix exactly right or you won’t achieve that authentic flavor. So I whipped some up myself and then figured -since the recipe is pretty hard to come by yet very simple- why don’t I share my kitchen secret?
See the spoons? Told you they’d pop up. I just can’t help it, I love them. Anyway, I tried to approach the original mix as closely as possible, while keeping the ingredients basic enough for most people to have in their spice cabinet. If you want to make it a little more interesting, a good way is to grind some caraway and coriander seeds in a mortar and add those as well.
1/2 tsp salt (or Lawry’s Seasoned Salt)
1 tbsp paprika powder
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp cornstarch
Just combine all the spices in a small bowl and mix up. It’ll be a beautiful, rich color. Don’t get your hopes up, though, we’re about to seriously ruin that!
Add the cornstarch and whisk until it blends in with the rest. That took the pretty saturation down a nudge, didn’t it? Oh well, comfort yourself with the thought it’s about the flavor anyway! Just store the mix in a empty spice bottle, this should be enough to last you at least two to three times. Could it be any simpler?
I’m making gyros with thinly sliced lean pork, but of course it’s also scrumptious when you use lamb in stead. Add two tbsp oil to the meat. I’ve used a mild olive oil because I wanted a neutral flavor. Using a fork (or your hands) toss it around until all the meat is lightly coated.
Do the same with the spice mix. I used about 2 heaping tbsp. I like it seasoned well so I don’t skimp. At times I also add a little extra salt.
Now I have a rather unorthodox way of marinading meat. I like the flavor and tenderness lemon gives me, but I don’t like it to be too overpowering. It’s hard to dose when using lemon juice, so in stead I use lemon slices. The zest contains the most flavor anyway, so I’m getting best of both worlds.
Cover with foil and let it marinade for at least 30 minutes. Preferably a few hours, that way the flavors will properly blend in with the meat. Because I’ve already added oil to the meat, I just heated up a skillet and browned the meat. This only takes a minute or so over high heat.
This is all it needs. Crunchy, juicy slices of red bell pepper and thinly sliced red onion.
Gyros should be served with Tzatziki. Seriously, a little sauce never hurt anyone! Now if you want to go a little more low fat (Greek yogurt can be a calorie bomb) on the sauce, or when you just don’t have enough time for a proper Tzatziki, you can also simplify the sauce. Make a faux Tzatziki, so to speak.
Mix up some garlic, cucumber, mint, whatever herbs you have on hand, a good pinch pinch of salt & pepper with some plain low fat yogurt. I threw in some chives as well, still had some left. Because the yogurt is a little more acidic, I opted for lemon pepper in stead of lemon juice. The sauce will be thinner than real Tzatziki, but just as flavorful.
Serve with warm toasted pita’s, and topped with bell pepper and onion. Lightly drizzle some sauce over the meat and serve the rest, and the vegetables, in small bowls on the side.
I don’t need much to be happy :)