Monday, June 15, 2009

Chicken Gyros and Homemade Pita Bread

I love meals that complement the season and these were so fresh and cool that they were a perfect summer dinner. The chicken was so flavorful and delicious, I found myself sneaking pieces as I was constructing the gyros. The tzatziki sauce was a perfect compliment to the warm chicken and pitas. All of the flavors- fresh tomato, biting red onion, cool cucumber and bold chicken combined to make an ideal eating experience.

Now for the side notes: the tzatziki was even better the second day so I would make it a day ahead the next time and I added a little extra lemon to counter the bitterness of the vinegar. Even though when eaten with the gyro as a whole it was a great compliment, I may leave out the white wine vinegar altogether or at least half it due to the bitterness. I ended up marinating my chicken for about 5 hours and all I know was that it was really good. It only calls for an hour but I've always heard that when it comes to marinating, the longer the better. The pita dough was really easy to put together but the whole process was quite time consuming. Was it worth all of the effort to make them fresh? Hmmm. The pride I got out of having created them myself was pleasant, they were tasty and soft, and since I can't recall how they compare to store bought pitas it would just depend on my laziness level on the day. I'd probably be just as satisfied, but I think I'll make them fresh again some time- because I can.

Chicken Gyros
Annie's Eats

Tzatziki Sauce:

16 oz. plain yogurt(preferably nonfat, if possible or actual Greek yogurt)
1/2 hothouse cucumber or 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded
2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
extra virgin live oil

for the Chicken:

4 cloves garlic, smashed
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping Tbs. plain yogurt
1 Tbs. dried oregano
salt and pepper
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

pita bread
fresh tomatoes
red onion, sliced thin

To make tzatziki sauce, strain yogurt (if using Greek this step is not necessary) using cheesecloth placed inside a stainer over a bowl. Let strain for several hours or overnight if possible, to remove as much moisture as possible.

Shred the cucumber. Wrap in paper towels and squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Mix the trained yogurt, shredded cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and squeeze of lemon juice. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to meld.

To prepare chicken, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Whisk together until well blended. Add the chicken to the bow and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Cook chicken as desired, in the skillet, with broiler or grill. Once the chicken is completely cooked through transfer to plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut into strips.

Heat pitas and fill with chicken, tzatziki sauce, tomato and onion. Serve immediately. Mmmm.

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