Chicken Gyros on Homemade Pitas

After two rather expensive months of grocery bills, I am extra focused on cooking and baking on a budget during the month of March. Of course, planning is key to saving money at the store, especially when you’re buying whole, organic foods. Each week, I try to find a few recipes that share ingredients, and I usually include a meatless entree or two – and always plan for leftovers. The chicken recipe featured in this post is one of three meat dishes I’ve planned for this week. Buying locally-raised, free range, antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken isn’t cheap. At Guido’s, boneless skinless chicken breasts are $7.49 per pound. But if you buy 5 pounds, the price drops to $5.99 per pound – a 20% savings. As a wise friend pointed out to me, a little more cost at the grocery store now could lead to lower bills at the doctor’s office later. Food for thought.

So last night’s dinner – chicken gyros – was inspired by this past weekend’s whole wheat pita bread experiment. We don’t eat Greek food very often (except for my homemade hummus!), but we both love gyros and have made these delicious lamb and beef gyros several times. I found this new recipe for Saucy Chicken Gyros on Half Baked Harvest and decided this would be the perfect recipe for my homemade pitas.

The preparation for the gyros recipe was actually very simple – just a little bit of chopping and stirring. Very low key. And I took about 15 minutes to prep the marinade yesterday morning and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator while we were at work. I decided to make the tapenade because we love Greek olives, but I forgot the parsley. Whoops! I also forgot to add the delicious sheep’s milk feta I have on hand – but that’s ok – it wasn’t really missing it with all that delicious sauce on top. One more note: I thought the quantities for the tzatziki sauce seemed like far too much for just 4 people (that’s 1/2 a cup of greek yogurt for each pita!). I cut the whole sauce recipe down by about a quarter and we still had more than enough leftover (great for adding to pitas stuffed with veggies, Applegate roasted turkey, and hummus for lunch).

Saucy Chicken Gyros
(shared from Half Baked Harvest)

marinade ingredients

I like to get out all of my ingredients before starting on a recipe so I have everything at hand. These are the ingredients for the marinade.

Serving Size: 4

INGREDIENTS

For the chicken:

  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons plain greek yogurt (my locally-made greek yogurt is 0%)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken, cut into thick strips

For the tzatziki:

  • 16 ounces plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 hothouse cucumber or 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded and diced small
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, grated (or finely minced)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon, dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • half a fresh lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Tapenade (optional)

  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup pitted green olives
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 pepperoncini, diced (optional)
  • 6-8 homemade pita breads or store bought
  • fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
  • feta cheese, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, greek yogurt, oregano, dill, salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Whisk together until mixed well. RFRR Tip: Smashing garlic is made easy by trimming off the root tip of the clove with a knife and placing the clove on a cutting board (skins on). Lay a large chef’s knife flat against the clove (with the sharp blade facing away from you) and use the palm of your hand to press the knife down on the clove. The skin will slip right off and the garlic’s wonderful aromatics will be released.

garlic

smashing the garlic

RFRR Tip: There are a couple different tricks to get the most juice out of a lemon (or lime). The first is to put it in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it up. My preferred method is to put the lemon on the counter and firmly roll the lemon under the palm of my hand to get the juices going. I like to use this juicer (bought at Williams Sonoma a decade ago) and squeeze the juice into a separate bowl just to make sure any renegade seeds don’t land in your dish.

juicing the lemon

juicing the lemon

Finished marinade

Finished marinade

Prep the chicken by cutting it into thick slices on a cutting board. RFRR Tip: I like to use these flexible plastic cutting mats. They come labeled: one for meat, one for seafood, and one for veggies. They’re easy to wash and avoid cross-contamination.

raw chicken

sliced chicken

chicken in bag

My flexible cutting mat allows me to slide the chicken right into the bag with the marinade.

Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour or overnight.

marinating chicken

Mix the chicken with the marinade right in the bag.

To prepare the tzatziki sauce pour any liquid off the surface of the greek yogurt. Mix together the greek yogurt, diced cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, dill, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice.

Tzatziki prep

Ingredients for the tzatziki sauce are ready to be mixed together.

Drizzle with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Finished tzatziki sauce

The tzatziki sauce is ready for the refrigerator.

If making the tapenade, dice the olives and mix in a small bowl with the garlic, pepperoncini and parsley. Set aside.

Olive tapenade

To cook the chicken, preheat your broiler. Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Place the chicken on a baking pan and broil the chicken for 5-7 minutes until cooked through.

chicken in pan

Pour the remaining marinade in a medium size skillet and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes and then toss the cooked chicken with the sauce. (RRFR Note: I had very little marinade remaining and so I skipped this step.)

Heat pitas (I put two in the microwave for about 30 seconds). Top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, sliced tomatoes, feta cheese and tapenade if using. Serve immediately.

chicken gyro

The great thing about a dish like this is you can add or remove toppings depending on your personal taste preferences, so everyone in your family can choose what goes on top of their gyro. But we both agreed that this meal was a big winner and loved it with all the toppings!

Nutrition information for the chicken, marinade, tapenade and tomatoes. Does not include pita of your choice – here’s a recipe I use – or feta cheese. Serves 4. Each serving has 404 calories, 21 g of fat, 43 g of protein, and 1 g of fiber.

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