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Chicken Gyros (Gyros Kotopoulo)

by Tim Vasilakis from The Athenian: Eat Like a Greek

An easy recipe for recreating traditional chicken gyros at home, the tender chicken is served wrapped in warmed pita breads, fried, and plenty of tzatziki.

From the book

Tim Vasilakis

Introduction

Traditionally, the meat for gyros is cooked on a vertical rotisserie and then carved very thinly before adding to warm pita with sauce, fries and salad. It’s easy to recreate this at home if you follow our recipe. Although it takes a while to cook, the hands-on time is minimal.

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Ingredients

4 boned, skinless chicken thighs
1 boned chicken thigh, skin on
½ white onion
4 pita breads
8-12 tbsp tzatziki
A few crisp Cos (Romaine) lettuce leaves, shredded
4 ripe tomatoes, sliced or coarsely chopped
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
oregano potato fries or French fries
chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, for sprinkling
smoked paprika, for dusting
For the marinade:
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tbsp sea salt
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp grated lemon zest
juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp olive oil

Essential kit

You will need: 4 bamboo or wooden skewers.

Method

Prep: 20 minutes, Marinate: 2 hours or overnight, Cook: 3 hours

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. Add the chicken thighs, turning them in the marinade. Cover the bowl and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or, better still, overnight.

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 130°C/250°F/gas mark ½.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and place the skinless thighs on top of each other in a stack. Cover with the remaining chicken thigh, skin-side up, and then place the onion half on top. Secure with 4 bamboo or wooden skewers, inserting them through the onion and all the chicken layers. Transfer to a baking tray and cook in the oven for 3 hours until the chicken is very tender.

When the chicken is cooked, place the stack on a board and, with the skewers in place to secure the meat, slice down through it very thinly with a sharp knife to ‘shave’ it and create the gyros effect.

Warm the pita breads in the oven or on a hot griddle (grill) pan. Spread the tzatziki over them and pile the sliced chicken on top.

Add the lettuce, tomato and onion together with the oregano potato fries or French fries. Sprinkle with parsley and dust with smoked paprika, then fold the pitas around the filling and roll up in some baking parchment or kitchen foil (aluminum foil) to hold the filling in place.

Alternatively, arrange the shaved chicken, warm pita breads and fries on a serving board or platter with a bowl of tzatziki and another of tomato, red onion and lettuce. Sprinkle with parsley, dust with smoked paprika and serve, allowing people to help themselves.

VARIATIONS

• Use souvlaki sauce instead of tzatziki.

• Add some crushed chilli flakes to the marinade.

• Sprinkle the cooked chicken with dried oregano before serving.

Tip: If you’re in a hurry, you can cook the chicken at 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3 for 2 hours, although it will not be so tender. The longer it’s cooked, the softer it gets.

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From the book: The Athenian: Eat Like a Greek

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