A gyro is a Greek dish traditionally made of ground lamb that is shaped around an upright rotisserie and slow-roasted. It’s served inside of a pita and topped with tzatziki, which is a sauce made of minced cucumbers, spices and plain yogurt. Pronounced “yee-ro," most home cooks don’t have the appliance to roast this Mediterranean fare in the time-honored way. If you aren’t bound by traditions, try cooking gyro meat in the slow cooker, which not only fills the house with exotic spices, but provides you with a healthy meal at the end of a long day.
Combine ground beef and lamb, oregano, paprika, marjoram, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
Work the spices into the ground meat with your fingers. Take care not to overwork the meat once the spices are combined or the texture of the cooked meat will become less tender.
Shape the meat into two small ovals.
Arrange the onions and garlic along the bottom of the slow cooker.
Place the two meatloaves on top of the vegetables. Pour half of the lemon juice over the meat.
Fit the lid to the slow cooker and turn the warming unit to low.
Cook the gyros for four hours or until the beef is completely cooked through. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that ground beef be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of the loaves will register whether they are cooked to a safe temperature.
Slice the loaves and stuff two or three pieces inside of a pita.
Fit a sieve into each bowl. Line each sieve with cheesecloth.
Mix the cucumber and salt in a small bowl and pour them into one of the cheesecloth-lined sieves.
Pour the yogurt into the other cheesecloth-lined sieve.
Place both bowls in the refrigerator for about four hours. The liquid from the cucumbers and yogurt will drain through the cheesecloth into the bowls.
Squeeze the excess liquid out of the cucumber and transfer it to a clean bowl.
Add the yogurt, vinegar, half of the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, salt and pepper. Stir the mixture thoroughly and refrigerate for an additional two hours. You can serve the tzatziki with the gyros immediately, but it will be more flavorful if you allow the flavors time to meld.
Prepare the tzatziki ahead of time so that it will be ready when the gyro meat is cooked. Serve with warm pita or flat bread, sliced tomatoes, feta cheese chunks, sliced black olives and tzatziki sauce. If lamb isn’t readily available, you can try ground turkey or chicken, or you can opt to use only ground beef. As an alternative, you can substitute a small roast and season it with the spices before placing it into the slow cooker. Cook the meat on low for eight to 10 hours or until it's cooked through.