Venison steak (or beef) is sliced thin, marinated, and piled on flatbread to create these Venison Gyros, a easy twist on the classic Greek street food.
I was first introduced to gyros while studying in Paris.
In France, it was called a “Pita Grecque.” Fluffy flatbread, flavorful meat straight off a spit, your choice of toppings, wrapped in a paper cone and piled as high as possible with crisp, piping hot fries. It was the most inexpensive, delectable, and filling meal you could find.
It wasn’t until I returned to the Milwaukee and realized that those Gyro shops that everyone on campus raved about were as close as I would find here in the States.
Ground meat gyros or steak gyros?
As I was researching recipes for homemade gyros (pronounced YUR-ohs), I found two versions. One that called for ground lamb and beef (or just beef) baked, meatloaf-style, and sliced. The other version started with steaks (beef or lamb) and broiled them after marinating.
The traditional way of cooking the meat for gyros is the ground version. Ground lamb or lamb and beef are pressed onto a spit in an inverted cone shape. Then the meat is roasted, vertically. The meat is shaved off of the spit as it roasts, right onto your flatbread.
Our Venison Gyro Recipe
It’s our opinion, that if we want truly authentic gyros, with the super tender meat, cooked on a spit, we’d rather go to a restaurant or street vendor who does it really right. Meatloaf just wan’t going to cut it. (And it would be WAY too much work.) But, we still wanted to make homemade gyros, so, we decided to cheat and go the sliced and marinated steak route.
You could use a good sirloin steak for this recipe (and your gyros would probably be a bit more tender) but we decided to use venison steaks we had in our freezer to make some venison gyros. Venison meat is a bit tougher, so we marinated our meat overnight. (If you are using beef, you could probably cut the marinade time down to 3-4 hours.)
The flavor of our venison steak gyros
While nothing can live up to street food, our steak gyros did turn out pretty darn good.
The meat boasted all the familiar flavors of shaved-from-the-spit gyros. The longer you marinade the steaks the more the flavor will penetrate the meat. We found that broiling the steaks gave them a similar caramelized flavor to spit-roasting. All in all, we were very happy with our our “cheating” version of homemade gyros turned out.
Starting with a soft and fluffy flatbread and topping the meat off with tomatoes, red onions, and yogurt made for quite the nostalgic dinner. It’s a perfect way to enjoy all the flavor of classic Greek gyros at home!
- 2 lbs venison steaks (or beef sirloin steaks)
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 2 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 2 roma tomatoes, sliced
- 8-10 pita or flatbread
- plain yogurt or tzatziki sauce
- oregano for sprinkling on top if desired
- Place steaks in a shallow glass baking dish.
- Mix together lemon juice, oil, garlic, mint, oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture over steaks. Cover the dish and marinate the meat overnight in the refrigerator.
- When you are ready to cook the meat, preheat your oven's broiler to medium.
- Transfer meat to a metal baking pan (the glass might crack under the broiler's heat).
- With your oven rack in its lowest position, place the baking dish with the meat (and marinade) in the oven and broil for 10-15 minutes, until the juices from the meat run clear when pricked.
- Remove dish from the oven and transfer meat to a cutting board. Cut steaks into thin slices, across the grain.
- Layer flatbread with meat, onions, and tomato. If desired top with plain yogurt or tzatziki sauce.