I had made a wonderful leg of lamb, quite by accident, since I had left the freezer door open overnight. My being so absent-minded did not impress me, but since the leg of lamb was sill quite semi-frozen, I allowed it to completely thaw in the fridge - then made it up with fresh garlic and rosemary. I think I get better at this dish, with every time I make it (recipe is already posted for Roasted Leg of Lamb). The slow roasting at 300 degrees is really the key to allowing the fat to slowly melt and baste the leg of lamb.
Since this was a big leg, almost 7 pounds, you can just say I had enough to feed a small army. I couldn't have a clue that my next meal the very next night would be as delicious as the leg of lamb out of the oven from the night before.
I asked my fellow foodies at GroupRecipes.com what could I do with so much left over leg of lamb. I really was perplexed - and I wasn't one for casseroles, as least not for tonight. It has been so hot lately in NY this summer. When one foodie mentioned gyros, I was instantly interested (thanks Pointseven). I went off to do some surfing and look up and review several recipes, then came up with my own version.
Since lamb is served best either hot or cold, not in between, I decided to try my hand at making homemade tzatziki sauce which is comprised of a low fat yogurt which has been drained of its liquid along with fresh cucumber. I noticed there were a variety of ways to make this sauce as there are a variety of ways to make so called gyros and even more ways to spell this sauce. So here is my take.
We also ended up inviting friends over for dinner, while one of them is a former NYC Chef, and he said many times over how great the meal was - so enjoy this wonderful summer dinner.
- Large pitas that can be sliced in half and opened to create pockets. Figure one large 6-7inch pita per person or more. (Usually found by the deli section at your grocery store sitting in front of the glass case containing your deli cheeses and meats)
- 1 large cucumber - skinned, seeds scooped out with spoon, then diced small
- 2 - 6oz jars of plain lo fat yogurt
- 1 - 8 oz jar of low fat sour cream - I think I used a larger container.
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons or more fresh minced mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt - or more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- 1-2 large cloves of garlic minced super fine.
- For the Platter and Meal:
- 2 juicy tomatoes diced and salted
- 1/2 head of lettuce or less shredded
- 1 large cucumber, peeled leaving a little skin, then sliced thinly, then halved.
- Left over leg of lamb, which has been cut into thin strips.
- Large platter for serving
- Prepare tzatziki sauce first, in fact I made mine that afternoon, since you will need the flavors to marry and get to know one another. This could easily be made the night before.
- Also this sauce would be perfect will grilled chicken in the pita pockets, or served over poached fish of your choice. This sauce is refreshingly light and quite delicious enough to satisfy carnivores.
- Take either strainer sitting over a bowl or simply a bowl and line it with several layers of cheese cloth (preferred) or clean tea towel (which is what I did).
- Pour contents of the containers of plain yogurt and sour cream into the dish towel with is sitting in the bowl, and let sit either in fridge or on your counter for about 1 hour at least. Do not skip this step, let the fluids drain at their own pace.
- This allows a lot of the water from the sour cream and the yogurt to be drained creating an extra thick sauce later.
- Take to the sink, and with gently squeezing out (like you would with frozen spinach) create a ball with your cheese cloth or dish towel and squeeze out the excess liquid. I even scraped with my fingers on the outside of the 'ball' to get as much as the excess liquid away.
- I stopped when little bits of the yogurt seemed to be sneaking through the dish towel.
- Using a spatula, scrape out/flip out the contents of the yogurt and sour cream into a bowl.
- Rinse your cheese cloth or dish towel to make cleaning it up later a cinch.
- To bowl, add all the minced mint, oregano, fresh cracked pepper, salt, lemon juice, minced finely garlic and the skinned, seeds removed diced small cucumber. Stir till the contents are combined. Cover with plastic and put back into fridge to let flavors to become friends.
- To make a pretty platter, make rows of the ingredients. This will allow your guests to create their own pita pockets.
- I took a large platter, sliced up farmers market tomatoes and sprinkled them with kosher salt. Letting the cut tomatoes sit for 10 minutes with the salt really gets the juices to flow from the tomatoes and super enhances their flavors.
- Make another row of the shredded lettuce and lamb.
- The make one last row of thinly sliced and decorated cucumber.
- You can either grill your pita bread to make it slightly more pliable, or even sprinkle them with a little water and heat them in the oven for a mere 5 minutes.
- I added additional minced mint on top of the lamb on the platter and on top of the zatziki sauce - which really boosted up the viewing factor.
- Bring pita, platter and zatziki sauce to the dinner table and serve with fresh seltzer with freshly cut lemons and limes or sangria. We also served up some fresh hummus I has also made (recipe posted) that afternoon.
- To Assemble:
- Open pita pocket, take a dollop of tzatziki sauce, then add lamb, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers - and maybe some additional tzatziki sauce and eat up!
- Put in serving spoons under rows of ingredients to allow people to easily get their ingredients and place them into their own pita pockets.
- Zatziki Sauce lasts at least a week covered in the fridge.