I have become mildly obsessed with using ground chicken in place of red meat, as evidenced here, here, here, and here. Of course, in the beginning, it started out as a way to reduce fat and calories found in ground beef and pork, but I have seriously started to prefer ground chicken in the past year. And I promise, it’s not because I’ve forgotten what the good stuff tastes like, I still require an all-beef, fatty cheeseburger or plate of The Best Spaghetti and Meatballs at least once a month, I just genuinely love the texture and flavor chicken, plain and simple.
The great thing about ground chicken in particular, is you can literally infuse whatever flavor you want into the meat within seconds versus a chicken breast that needs to marinate for hours upon hours to permeate the flesh — something I recently talked about here. In this case, I went with all the classic flavors of a Greek gyro, one of my all-time favorite sandwiches in the world.
I’m a total sucker for a good gyro, and had pretty solid success with this lamb gyro burger I made a year or so back, so I thought I’d try to take some of the same flavors and turn it into something a little more figure-friendly. After all, I’m in the midst of trying to lose some serious baby weight and we have a looming Florida vacation just days away. Yes, one where I must wear a bathing suit ten weeks postpartum, something I totally thought I’d be ready for at this point — ha!
Since I don’t own one those fancy, professional rotisserie gyro makers that allow you to slice the meat fresh for each gyro, I went with a meatball of sorts. Dried rosemary, dried oregano, plenty of onion (grated and diced), garlic, olive oil and salt are added to the ground chicken and mixed with your hands just until combined. I use a small ice cream scoop (about one tablespoon) to form the mixture into meatballs, then line them up on a silpat or piece of parchment paper and pop them into a super hot oven.
While the meatballs bake off, you throw together a super quick tzatziki sauce, which isn’t always served with a gyro, but for me, is a must.
I make mine with Greek yogurt (obviously), but I also throw in lots of fresh garlic, quite a bit of lemon juice, grated cucumber, dill, a little bit of olive oil, and plenty of salt.
I want to mention to two things though, first of all, you MUST strain all of the liquid out of the cucumber after grating, otherwise you’ll end up with a tzatziki sauce that’s wayy too watery. Also, I happen to love the punch of fresh garlic, but it’s not for everyone, if it’s not your thing, use just the tiniest amount, or, omit it altogether.
Pile the meatballs into some crisp Boston or butter lettuce, scoop copious amounts of tzatziki sauce on top, and sprinkle with some diced tomato, and you’ve got yourself a healthy gyro – hallelujah!
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- ½ small onion, grated
- ½ small onion, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup grated cucumber
- 8 ounces plain non-fat Greek yogurt
- ½ cup grated cucumber, squeezed of all excess moisture with a paper towel
- 1 small garlic clove, grated (or if you don't love the taste of garlic ½ or ¼ small clove)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Chopped tomatoes
- Boston or butter lettuce
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
- In a bowl, use your hands to combine ground chicken, dried rosemary, oregano, garlic, grated and diced onion, and olive oil. Use a small ice cream scoop to form mixture into heaping tablespoon meatballs. Line up on baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes.
- While the meatballs cook make the tzatziki sauce by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
- To assemble, put a small amount of sauce on the bottom of each lettuce, top with two to three meatballs and finish with more sauce. Garnish with chopped tomatoes.