How To Make Gyros With Lamb Burgers

Up your burger game with these mouthwatering lamb burgers with tzatziki sauce.

Making real gyros at home is next to impossible, but you can come close. Real gyros are usually made from ground lamb, often blended with beef and pork, heavily and heavenly compressed into a giant cone. In Greece, it is not uncommon to find it made from chicken or pork. The cone of meat is speared with a rotisserie and stood vertically in front of a glowing infrared burner. As it rotates, the exterior browns, and when you place your order the cook slices off a thin shaving of the crunchy brown outside layer. The meat is then served on a pita flatbread and usually dressed with chopped tomatoes, shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced red onions, cucumber, and tzatziki sauce made from yogurt, mint, cucumbers, and garlic. The concept of the vertical rotisserie browning the outside layer, shaving it off, and browning the inside layer, is used for doner kebabs, shawarma, and tacos al pastor.

The challenge is making the meat cone, which usually consists of 10 to 40 pounds of meat, plus the vertical rotisserie. I've tried to make it work on a horizontal rotisserie, and the meat just sags and falls off. But you can come close by making a patty and grilling it crispy on both sides, and you can even leave it pink in the center. When cooked properly, I like lamb burgers better than beef burgers! Next time you have a burger jones, make it a lamb burger. Most groceries carry ground lamb. Often in preformed patties. Preparing these burgers is a snap and you might not go back to beef burgers.

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lamburger

Making the burgers couldn't be simpler. The sauce is the key. I know you want to put ketchup on your burgers, but lamb has been a staple of the Greek diet for centuries, and it really does taste best with tzatziki. The sauce below, developed by my wife, is not a traditional tzatziki, but it's close, and I like it better. You'll be surprised at how well it works on lamb burgers. We serve them with a big green salad and use the sauce as a salad dressing too. I've even been known to pack the salad into a pita and eat it that way.

Course. Lunch. Dinner. Entree.

Cuisine. American.

Makes. 4 burgers

Takes. 15 minutes prep. 10 minutes to cook.

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds ground lamb

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon Morton’s kosher salt (read more about the science of salt here)

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

4 pita pockets

Tzatziki yogurt sauce

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup shredded lettuce

1 small red onion, sliced thin

Optional. Chopped cucumbers are nice on this.

Method

1) Prep. Prepare the tzatziki yogurt sauce according to the recipe found here. You can do this the night before and that will help pull flavor out of the herbs.

2) Fire up. Prepare your grill for hot direct heat. If your gas grill has a sear burner or infrared burner, this is what it is for. The burgers can also be cooked easily on a hibachi.

3) Prep again. Form the meat into patties about 4 to 6 ounces each, 1/4 to 1/2" thick and shaped like a football so they will fit neatly into pita halves. Coat them with the oil, and then with the spices. That may seem like a lot of spices, but we want to form a nice crust.

4) Cook. Put the burgers on the grill, close the lid, and stand there. Sing Mary Had a Little Lamb four times or about four minutes, then check the underside. You want it dark, but not black. Cook the burger until it hits a safe temp of 160°F. Toss the pitas on the grill for 30 to 60 seconds on each side, enough to warm them.

5) Serve. Serve the burgers by cutting the pitas in half. Press the sides gently to pop open the pocket. Spoon about a tablespoon of sauce in, put some chopped tomato, lettuce, and onion in, squeeze the burger in on top, and slather more sauce on the burger. Make sure everyone has plenty of napkins.

"We all need to make time for a burger once in a while."Erica Durance

The story behind the nursery rhyme

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Sarah Josepha Buell Hale (1788-1879) was a poet, novelist, and magazine editor who published more than 40 books in her lifetime. The portrait of her above was painted by by James Reid Lambdin around 1831.

She, more than anyone, was responsible for making the New England celebration of Thanksgiving a national holiday by campaigning for it for almost two decades and by writing letters to five presidents. Finally, her letter to President Lincoln is credited for convincing him to support the concept as a unifying event after the Civil War.

The Sarah Josepha Hale Award is one of the nation's oldest and most distinguished literary awards. It has gone to such luminaries as Robert Frost, John Hersey, Ogden Nash, John Kenneth Galbraith, Arthur Miller, Ellen Goodman, and Ken Burns.

Mary Had a Little Lamb

By 

Mary had a little lamb,

Little lamb, little lamb.

Mary had a little lamb,

Its fleece was white as snow.

And everywhere that Mary went,

Mary went, Mary went,

Everywhere that Mary went,

The lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day,

School one day, school one day.

It followed her to school one day,

Which was against the rules.

It made the children laugh and play,

Laugh and play, laugh and play.

It made the children laugh and play

To see a lamb at school

And so the teacher turned it out,

Turned it out, turned it out.

And so the teacher turned it out,

But still it lingered near,

And waited patiently about,

Patiently about, patiently about,

And waited patiently about,

Till Mary did appear.

"Why does the lamb love Mary so?"

Love Mary so? Love Mary so?

"Why does the lamb love Mary so?"

The eager children cry.

"Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know."

Loves the lamb, you know, loves the lamb, you know.

"Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know,"

The teacher did reply

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