Sunday, March 24, 2013

Chicken & Eggplant Gyros with Tzaziki and Tomato Salad

I constantly crave foods wrapped in breads. Tacos and enchiladas usually top the craving list, but just under that is the gyro. I've got no idea how it's actually pronounced, and I can't say I care. It's called many things, kebab in some places, and shwarma in others. I call it a gyro and that's all.

My version of the gyro is... involved. It's a true labor of love when I make it here in China. I make the soft bread that wraps it myself. I cook and season the meat. Make the tzatziki, make a tomato salad to add, and then shred some lettuce and crumble the feta. It takes a special trip to the city to get the mint I need for the recipe. And I do it because it is so worth it.

I'll post a recipe for the bread I make for this another time, as this recipe and its fixings are already rather numerous. You can wrap yours in warm, soft pitas, and that will be just as delicious.

Chicken & Eggplant Gyros with Tzaziki and Tomato Salad


For the Eggplant-Chicken Mixture:
1 chicken breast
1 large eggplant
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt & pepper
Pepper flakes, to taste
1 tsp cumin


For the tzatziki:
1 cucumber
3 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp sour cream (optional, replace with yogurt if desired)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Juice of ¼ of a lemon (about 1-2 tbsp)
1 1/2 tsp dill
Small splash of olive oil
Salt & pepper

For the tomato salad:
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced into rounds
½  a medium red onion
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
Fresh mint, about 1 tablespoon chopped

NOTE: I've grouped directions by which aspect of the gyro it makes. Really though, to streamline this process, you should start off putting your eggplant in the oven and your chicken on to boil, then go on to assemble your tzatziki and tomato salads. This will allow your filling to be in the works while you make the other parts, which come together quickly. Then, they can sit and the flavors can meld while you finish cooking up the chicken-eggplant filling. I hope that helps!

Make the Tomato Salad:
1. Slice the tomatoes into rounds so that they resemble small coins. Thinly slice your red onion, chop the mint. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl together and let sit, allowing flavors to meld for at least 10 minutes. 

Make the Tzatziki:
1. Grate cucumber on the large grate side of a box grater, and put into a medium sized bowl. Add a small splash of olive oil, the minced garlic, and the salt and stir.

2.Add the yogurt and sour cream (if using), and a small amount of lemon juice, then mix. Taste. I like my tzatziki sour, but you should adjust your lemon juice amount to your own tastes. 

3.Now add the dill, a tiny bit more salt, and some pepper. Taste and adjust.

Make the filling:
1.Preheat your oven to 375 F. Slice the top off of the eggplant, then cut through the middle lengthwise. Slice each half into thin slices and arrange on a foil lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt, then cook until the eggplant has become more transparent looking.

2.Fill a small pot with water, add some salt and bring to a boil. Drop your chicken in and boil until just cooked through.  Using a slotted spoon, take our your chicken and allow to cool a bit. Then,  either shred or slice the chicken.

3.In a pan, add about 1 tbsp of oil and the two cloves of garlic minced. Saute about 1 minute, then add both the chicken and the eggplant. Sprinkle the other seasonings over this mixture and cook until heated through and some of the moisture from the chicken and eggplant has gone. 

Warm your bread of choice. If pitas, determine whether you wish to stuff the pita or wrap with the pita. It's a hard decision, I know. Layer your tzatziki sauce, chicken-eggplant filling, and tomato salad into the pita, then top with shredded lettuce and crumbled feta. Enjoy your messy, delicious gyros!

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