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The Secret of Spooled Gyro Meat

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Wombat asks via Twitter:

how is gyro meat made? is it like making a big sausage?”

You know, it kind of is. Alton Brown described gyro (pronounced YEE-row) as kind of a meatloaf when he made the Good Eats recipe for gyro meat. You’ll notice that gyro meat doesn’t look like your usual sort of meatloaf, because meatloaves generally have the texture of hamburger, which is a lot looser than your average gyro meat.

When you compare the Good Eats meatloaf with the gyro recipe, you’ll find that there’s a higher ratio of salt to meat in the gyro, and the gyro cooks longer at a lower temperature. The big reason for this difference is, as you may recall from my article The Application of Salt, when you salt ground meat early in the cooking process and give it time to work, the salt breaks down the cellular structure of the meat, making the grain tighter.

Of course, rather than stuff it into a casing or carve it into patties, gyro meat is often packed around a spool and cooked rotisserie style, as in the article’s picture. My first experience seeing the gyro spool filled me with deep suspicion about what kind of beast might have a leg shaped in such a way as to be spoolable. But I was young and foolish then, and know at least a little more now.

Of course, being more of a loaf gives you a wide range of options for making gyro your own. Lamb is a traditional meat, but I’ve seen quite a few pork presentations as well. Fitting in your own herbs and spices is a simple enough affair, though there’s something to be said for a simple lamb presentation with a yogurt sauce on the side.

Gyro image courtesy of Perry Kachroo via a Creative Commons Attribution, No Derivative Works license.


Leave a Comment


  • yousefbani | 06/22/2020

    hi i am looking to develop my gyro business. who to stay strong not to fill down. and juice .tasty

  • Tito123 | 06/18/2016

    Marcella, what you are describing is actually called 'Shawarma' in the US. The ground meat (beef, lamb, or chicken) varieties here are usually called 'gyros' and these are popular as well. In restaurants, both of these types of meat (fillets or ground beef/lamb/chicken) can be found cooked on vertical broilers like the one shown in the photo, just with the difference in names (gyro for the ground and shawarma for the stacked-up fillets). In some cities a Mexican version is also popular (al pastor), which consists of marinated pork fillets cooked on the vertical broiler.

  • MFerguson | 03/03/2010

    Same technique is used for making donairs.

  • lereb | 02/28/2010

    you didnt mentioned that gyro is a greek word that means around and this technique is a greek that souvlaki restaurants do!

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