September 18, 2015

Chicken Gyros & Homemade Pita Bread


I can't believe it. That's just one of those things we say, but honestly, I don't think I'll 100% believe I'm actually going until the plane leaves the ground. I have zero experience with international travel. The Geologist has been to Egypt and the Bahamas, but the furthest I've been outside of the USA is a drive down into Mexico with my best friend and her family when I was eight or nine. Considering that the only things I remember from that trip are olive trees and gross cold fish tacos, I'm going to have to say that doesn't count. But now I have a passport and I'm going to be flying over an ocean! Heck, we have a layover in Iceland! I probably won't have a chance to leave the airport, but still!!  Iceland!! I'm... just... floored. Okay. Gathering myself together, ha!

Today's recipe is a re-post, because it's one of my favorite recipes I've ever discovered on a fellow food blog (shout-out to Half-Baked Harvest!!) and the pictures from my original post are... kind of awful, lol! Some day I'll get the hang of rolling them up, so they actually look like gyros... Oh well!

Chicken Gyros (adapted from Half-Baked Harvest)
Printable Recipe

4 cloves garlic, smashed
juice of 1 lemon
3 tsp red wine or balsamic vinegar
3 Tb extra virgin olive oil
3 Tb plain Greek yogurt (I used 2 %)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried dill
Salt and pepper
1 1/2-2 pounds boneless chicken, trimmed cut into thick strips/chunks (we had 2-3 pieces per chicken breast)

Tzatziki Sauce:
16 ounces plain greek yogurt (I used the rest of that 2%)
1/2 English cucumber or 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded and diced small
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed (or finely minced)
1 Tb white wine vinegar
1 tsp, dried dill
1 tsp dried oregano
half a fresh lemon, juiced
1 Tb extra virgin olive oil

To Serve:
Homemade Pita Bread (recipe below)
feta cheese
mixed greens (or lettuce)
thinly sliced red onions, marinated in a few Tb balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sugar
olives (the original recipe has an olive tapenade recipe, if you like olives!)

Chicken first! Combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, Greek yogurt, oregano, dill, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. (I estimated about 3/4-1 tsp of salt) Whisk together until smooth. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour or overnight. (Or you can combine it all in a ziplock bag)

Next, the Tzatziki! First, pour any liquid off the surface of the Greek yogurt. (Full fat or 2% work best, nonfat is a bit thin) Combine the cucumbers, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Toss to combine, then put them in a wire mesh strainer over a small bowl. Let sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This helps get rid of extra water in the cucumbers that can make your sauce watery. Mix together the yogurt, marinated and drained cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, dill, oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and another drizzle of lemon juice. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

When you're ready to cook, preheat your broiler. Line a large rimmed baking pan with foil. Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Place the chicken on the baking pan and broil the chicken for 10 minutes until cooked through. Let the chicken rest about 5-8 minutes, then slice up into smaller pieces. Pour the remaining marinade in a medium size skillet and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes and then toss the cooked chicken with the sauce. Heat pitas (in pan or microwave). Top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, feta cheese, and your favorite veggies. Serve immediately.

Homemade Soft Pita Bread (also from Half-Baked Harvest)

1 cup pretty warm water
2 tsp active dry or instant yeast
2 1/2 - 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 Tb extra virgin olive oil

Combine the water and yeast together in the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl. Let sit for about five minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour (saving the last half cup for kneading), salt, and olive oil. If using a stand mixer attach the dough hook and knead the dough on medium speed for 8 minutes, adding more flour if needed until you have a smooth dough. (I didn't need any more) If kneading by hand, sprinkle a little of the extra flour onto your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or the work surface, but try to be sparing. It's better to use too little flour than too much.

Clean the bowl you used to mix the dough and drizzle it with a little olive oil. Set the dough in the bowl and turn it until it's coated with oil. Cover with a clean dishcloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour. *At this point, you can refrigerate the pita dough until it is needed. You can also bake one or two pitas at a time, saving the rest of the dough in the fridge. The dough will keep refrigerated for about a week.*

When you're ready to bake, gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 6-8 equal pieces and gently flatten each piece into a thick disk. (I did 8, and my pitas were a bit thin. If you like them thicker, divide into 6 pieces) One at a time, roll each piece into a circle(ish) shape 8-9 inches wide and about a quarter inch thick.

Sprinkle with a little extra flour if it starting to stick. If the dough starts to spring back, set it aside to rest for a few minutes, then continue rolling. Repeat with the other pieces of dough. (Once you get the hang of it you can be cooking one pita while rolling the next one out.)

Warm a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (you want a hot pan). Drizzle a little oil in the pan and wipe off the excess. Lay a rolled-out pita on the skillet and bake for 30 seconds, until you see big bubbles starting to form. Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, until large toasted spots appear on the underside. Flip again and cook another 1-2 minutes to toast the other side. The pita should start to puff up during this time; if it doesn't or if only small pockets form, try pressing the surface of the pita gently with a clean towel. Keep cooked pitas covered with a clean dishtowel while cooking any remaining pitas. These are best eaten fresh, but will keep in a ziplock bag for a few days or in the freezer.
Okay, first of all, this pita bread is completely delicious. It's soft and fluffy, with a bit of that pita chew, surprisingly flavorful for the simplicity of its ingredients. Next time I'm going to make a double batch and just snack on the bread! Someday I want to try garlic-ifying it...
Ah, the perfect chicken gyro. We used a package of mixed spring greens, we like the extra flavor they have. Sometimes when you use lettuce it just kinda tastes like water, you know?
Creamy cool tzatziki, crumbly salty feta, all mixing together with the sauces from the chicken... That extra sauce is what puts it over the top for me!
Honestly?? Heaven in a pita. Easily as good as the best authentic gyro I've ever had. Sometimes we use the leftover tzatziki and chicken just to top salad, and it's one of the few times we can get our boys to eat salad!

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