Gyro Meat with Tzatziki Sauce

Gyro Meat
A couple of weeks ago we had some friends over for a Sunday feast. J has previously mastered the Chicken Gyros (recipe soon!) and wanted to try his hand at the more traditional gyro meat, which is a combination of lamb and beef. As usual, one of our favorite Food Network chefs, Alton Brown, didn’t disappoint with this easy recipe. The hardest part was pressing the meat without a brick!

Ingredient Gyro Meat:
1 medium onion, finely chopped (we used the food processor)
1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (we probably used a little more)
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon dried ground rosemary
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)

Directions Gyro Meat:
Process the onion in a food processor for 10 to 15 seconds and turn out into the center of a tea towel. Gather up the ends of the towel and squeeze until almost all of the juice is removed. Discard juice. (We actually just used a coffee filter inside a strainer with a weight on top). Return the onion to the food processor and add the lamb, beef, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, salt, and pepper and process until it is a fine paste, approximately 1 minute. Stop the processor as needed to scrape down sides of bowl. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the mixture into a loaf pan, making sure to press into the sides of the pan. We ended up cooking this in two loaf pans. A bread loaf pan and a 9×13 pan. Place the loaf pan into a water bath and bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 degrees F. Remove from the oven and drain off any fat. (We ended up doing this twice as the first time the temperature wasn’t quite high enough. In fact, we ended up turning up the heat to 350 degrees just to make sure it cooked through.) Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and place a brick wrapped in aluminum foil directly on the surface of the meat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F. We used smaller pans to press the meat. Warning: Be careful during this process, the water is hot, the meat is hot, the pan is hot and there are lots of opportunities for burns. Steam burns hurt. If you are using traditional pot holders and oven gloves, be extra careful the steam will cause these to get wet and increase your chances of getting a burn. If you have an oveglove, use that, we plan to invest in one ourselves.

Slice and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped onion, tomatoes and feta cheese.

My opinion:
This was so so so so good. I couldn’t stop eating it. The flavors rally shine and despite my hesitation (and general aversion to sauces) the tzatziki sauce make all the flavors pop even more. I cannot wait to eat this again!

Ingredients Tzatziki Sauce:
16 ounces plain yogurt (we used Dannon because it came in the right sized container)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
Pinch kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil (we used extra virgin)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
5 to 6 fresh mint leaves, finely minced

Directions:
Place the yogurt in a tea towel, gather up the edges, suspend over a bowl, and drain for 2 hours in the refrigerator. (We actually didn’t do this as the yogurt we purchased had already separated so we just drained it off). Place the chopped cucumber in a tea towel and squeeze to remove the liquid; discard liquid. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, salt, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and mint. Serve as a sauce for gyros. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week. (We just used the original container.)

My opinion:
This is good as a dip too! I’ve eaten it with pita chips and tortilla chips. Where it really makes a difference is on the gyro meat.

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Green Chili Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Green Chili Chicken macaroni and cheese

In case you missed it, we love macaroni and cheese and have graduated from the blue box to homemade amazingly delicious recipes. While we love, love, love our original recipe, every now and then we want something a little different. Not to mention, some of our favorite San Antonio memories involve sitting at a table at Silo and sharing the amazing green chili and orzo macaroni and cheese with friends. J found this Serious Eats recipe, which with a few modifications is really close.

Ingredients
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk (we used fat-free because it’s what our local HyVee had)
2 eggs
2 bone-in, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound total) (we used boneless skinless because it’s what we had on hand)
Kosher salt
Half pound dry elbow macaroni (Or the whole box like us)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces grated American cheese (or your favorite mild cheese, we like Monterrey jack cheese)
8 ounces grated pepperjack cheese
1 (3.5 ounce) can chopped green chilies
1 cup homemade or store-bought salsa verde (in a pinch you can use the Texas Two-Step green chili stew)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
6 scallions, thinly sliced

Directions:
Combine cornstarch, evaporated milk, and eggs in a small bowl and whisk until homogenous. Set aside.

 

Season chicken with salt. Place chicken breasts in a large Dutch oven or stockpot and cover with water by 4 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes after a boil is achieved. Using tongs, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.



Return water to high heat until boiling and add pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until barely al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot. While pasta is cooking, pull chicken meat into bite-sized shreds and set aside, discarding bones (which is why we used boneless, skinless in the first place.) 
When pasta is cooked, return to low heat. Add butter and stir until melted. Add evaporated milk/egg mixture and cheese. Stir until smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped chilies, salsa verde shredded chicken, cilantro, and scallions.

Green Chili mac and cheese

We baked this for about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven to let it set.

My opinion:
This is now my second favorite macaroni and cheese recipe ever. Plus, it freezes well.

Carnegie Deli Matzo Ball Soup (and chicken stock!) Recipe

Matzo Ball Soup Recipe

My mom makes the best matzo ball soup. Ever. Part of the reason it’s probably the best is because she only makes it once a year at Passover. I think the recipe is a combination of one from Cooking Light and several family recipes from friends. It’s amazing. Since the first Passover J attended, he’s tried to recreate my mom’s recipe. We use the same ingredients and follow her directions, but it never turns out the same. After our trip to New York this summer, J decided to find the Carnegie Deli recipe. He finally succeeded with a few modifications of this recipe.

Stock Ingredients:
1 pound chicken necks, backs, and wings (we just used wings since that’s what we had in the freezer)
1/2 ounce chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 small white onion, quartered
Salt and pepper, to taste

For matzo balls :
8 large eggs
1 cup liquid shortening or olive oil plus more for rolling matzo balls ( I think my mom uses vegetable oil)
about 1 cup water
4 cups matzo meal
1/4 teaspoon Maggi Seasoning
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Optional: top with fresh dill.

Directions:
Make stock : Combine first four ingredients with 6 cups water. Add Maggi seasoning (we found it in the Asian isle, it’s made by Nestle) and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for at least an 1 hour.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, oil, water, matzo meal, Maggi, salt, and pepper until just incorporated. Oil hands, then, working as gently as possible, form round balls about the size of a golf ball (but try to keep them loose or the middles won’t cook). Boil matzo balls in stock until cooked through and soft, at least 45 minutes. Divide matzo balls evenly between four bowls, allotting two matzo balls and two cups stock per serving. Sprinkle with fresh dill and enjoy.

My opinion:
It’s really close. The only part that wasn’t was J rolled the matzo balls too tight, so the middles didn’t cook quite through.