Between me, my mom, and my sister, we have a lot of home cooked meals in our house. We rarely eat out for dinner, which I love, but that means we have to get creative with our meals and switch them up. We like grilled chicken, a lot, but lets be honest here, chicken can get pretty dang boring. But when you marinate it in some new spices, grill it up and put it in a pita, chicken becomes a whole new thing. I love foods from other areas of the world, whether it's sesame chicken inspired from asia, or these chicken gyros inspired from the Mediterranean.
I love greek food. Feta, kalamata olives, fresh olive oil, and eggplants are some of my favorite foods to cook with and eat. I am often inspired to cook things based upon places I want to travel. Greece is one place I hope to go someday (among many others). I was looking at some pictures that someone had put on facebook from their trip sailing around Greece, and that is when I decided to make these gyros.
The first Gyro I ever ate was with Toby when we were in Austin, TX. It was so simple, and so tasty. I had a few different recipes for gyros, and decided to take my own approach to them. I marinated the chicken in classic mediterranean spices, and then grilled it. I made my own version of a tsatziki sauce, and instead of raw onions (which I find way too spicy), I grilled them and they quickly became my favorite part of the whole dinner. I threw some cherry tomatoes, feta, cucumber, and spinach in a pita, and along with the grilled chicken and onions, dinner was quickly on the table.
This is one of the first dinners Emory was able to eat with us (he is growing up too fast!), and let's just say this may just be his new favorite meal (along with his daddy who fully enjoyed dinner with a nice big glass of red wine). If pita's aren't your thing, and you prefer flatbread, here is a recipe I have been dying to try!
Grilled Chicken Gyros
I used plain yogurt for my tsatziki, but next time I am going to try using plain greek yogurt for a thicker texture. Opa!
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin, plus a pinch (for yogurt sauce)
1 tablespoon dried oregano, plus a pinch (for yogurt sauce)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon, plus juice of 1/2 lemon for yogurt sauce
salt and pepper
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain yogurt (or greek style plain)
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 red onion, cut in half, and then each half sliced into thin slices
6 Wheat (or gluten-free) Pita halves
Spinach, feta, sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes for stuffing pita
For chicken marinade:
In a large ziplock bag (or casserole dish) add olive oil, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 tablespoon oregano, minced garlic, juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper. Close bag and mix all ingredients together (if using casserole dish use whisk to mix). Add in chicken, and let marinate in fridge for 1-2 hours (if your are pressed for time marinate for 15 minutes, but the longer it sits the better it will be). Because you are using lemon juice you do not want to marinate too long because it will break down the fibers in the chicken and make it mushy. Take Chicken out of fridge 1/2 hour before grilling to let it come to room temp.
For yogurt sauce:
In a medium size bowl mix yogurt, a pinch of cumin, oregano, pepper, and garlic salt. Add in the juice of 1/2 a lemon and the scallions. You do not need to make ahead, but the longer it sits the better the flavor will be. I made it in the morning and let it sit all day in the fridge.
To put it together:
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place cut onions in a foil tent (cut a large piece of foil, and wrap it around onions loosely so they can sweat), and drizzle some olive oil on them. Place marinated chicken on grill, and grill until they are no longer pink, turning once, about 15-20 minutes. When you turn chicken, place the onions (in the foil tent) on the grill. Check the onions every once in a while, and flip them around so they all grill evenly. Grill onions 10-12 minutes until they are soft and slightly browned.
Cover chicken with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes to let the juices re-distribute.
If you want your pita's warmed, you can warm in microwave for a few seconds, or wrap in foil and place on grill for a few seconds (this is what I did). Stuff pita's with spinach, feta, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, sliced chicken, grilled onions, and yogurt sauce. Enjoy!