I love lamb. It can be ‘gamy’ at times, but if you’re into lamb, you’re INTO lamb. I’m into lamb. What are the traditional cuts? Leg, rack, chop, loin, ground and shank.. Each very different, each requiring different cooking techniques. You wouldn’t braise a lamb chop, just as you wouldn’t quick grill a lamb shank. If done properly, every cut will deliver tender, succulent, full – of – flavor lamb.
For this recipe, I use the leg. It requires a little effort to trim the fat off, truss it, and endure a longer cooking time, but the result is well worth the effort. You can pack so much seasoning and spice into the leg, and the long slow cooking with melt everything together, resulting in tender and flavorful meat.
This dish is very Lebanese in nature; lamb (of course) and the sides highlight some of the better things coming from the region. Everything seems to work, balance is achieved, and if you make this right, you will have a wonderful dining experience. Better than wonderful. This is also a very healthy dish, relying on natural flavors. Of course, if you’re not into lamb, use thin sliced grilled chicken, skirt steak, veal, and so on.
Lamb Gyros with Pita, Feta, Cucumber and Hummus
Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 3 hours
Yield: 4 servings
1 bone-out leg of lamb, trimmed of excess fat and connective tissue
1 English cucumber, 3/4 very thin sliced, the rest small dice, seeds removed
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp kosher salt
prepared ‘original’ hummus
1/2 bunch fresh mint, rough chop
good quality feta cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp ground corriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground fennel seed
ground black pepper
Pita bread, good quality
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small red onion, 1/2 small dice, the other half thin slice
1/2 bunch parsley, rough chop
juice of 2 lemons
4 leaves butter lettuce
extra virgin olive oil
Heat an oven to 350. Rub the lamb inside and out with the cumin, corriander, fennel seed, salt and pepper. Truss tightly. Roast (or slow smoke on a wood grill) for about 3 hours, until very tender. Let cool slightly.
While the lamb is roasting, prepare everything else. Mix the sliced cucumbers with the salt, sugar, vinegar and let cure. Mix the yogurt with 1 tbsp mint, 1 tbsp parsley, 1 tsp of the onion, the garlic, juice of 1/2 lemon, a little salt and pepper and the diced cucumber. Reserve.
Drain the cucumber and tomato mix.
Slice the lamb as thin as possible. Mix the lamb with lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, sliced onion, mint and feta cheese. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Rub the pita with a little olive oil. Toast the pita lightly until warmed through. Smear some of the hummus on the pita. Load the sliced lamb the pita, along with the cucumber and tomatoes, and lettuce. Put a dollop of the yogurt sauce (tzatziki) on top, wrap tightly with parchment paper, and eat right away!