Guys, can you believe this weekend is Memorial Day already? I can’t. I’m in serious denial over here. In denial but L-O-V-I-N-G the fact that it’s a long holiday weekend. Yessss.
What are your plans? Are you hosting/attending a BBQ? Heading to the beach? Lounging around? Tell me! As I mentioned last week, Dan and I are headed to Toronto for a long weekend with some friends, sans baby. Leaving Kieran at home is still SO bittersweet. While I desperately miss his sweet, happy face and spunky personality even when I’m only away from him for a few hours (I feel like he changes every time I’m away from him!), I also know that investing in parents-only time is just as important as spending time with him. We’re his foundation, after all! We gotta be tight, too.
I am so looking forward to the trip, but I have to admit: I’m going to miss not attending a single BBQ this weekend. I know there are many in the months ahead, but still, grilling outside on Memorial Day seems like it should be mandatory, no?
To quell my unease about this, I cranked up the grill this past week and made these incredible (and I mean INCREDIBLE) Greek-marinated chicken thighs for some homemade gyros. GAH. Let me tell you, I think I have finally found THE chicken recipe to end all other chicken recipes. I mean it, you guys! There is so much flavor packed into this chicken, it’s unreal. And the yogurt tenderizes the shiz outta them! The practically melt in your mouth. So freaking good.
The marinade is packed with lemon and garlic and loads of fresh dill, which by the way, is a totally underutilized herb in my life. Which is so odd. I looooove the flavor and aroma of fresh dill, and yet, I almost never cook with it. Dill pickles are one of my top 10 favorite foods. Yes, really. I need to fix this dill problem. Clearly.
Today’s recipe is definitely going to help me with that goal. I’ve got the dill going on in a few ways. The first being in the aforementioned chicken marinade. The second being in the quick pickled veggies that I pile on top of the chicken. And the third being in the tzatziki!
Can we all just take a moment to collectively swoon over this incredible condiment? Please. And thank you. I want to slather it on everything. It’s so fresh and light but creamy and decadent at the same time. The best of all worlds. Even Dan, who is not a huge fan of cucumbers, thoroughly enjoyed the tzatziki with these gyros. It’s going into our regular rotation, for sure.
Gyros, while seemingly complicated, are totally easy to make at home. They just take a little planning! Marinate the chicken and make the pickled veg and tzatziki the day before you serve. The actual active prep time is minimal. They are definitely something you should attempt, if you haven’t already.
Gyros are one of my most favorite “street food” items out there. There’s a place a few blocks from my office that makes THE BEST lamb and chicken gyros on earth (take this with a grain of salt, please. I have, after all, never been to Greece). They load them up with tender, marinated meat, tons of fresh veggies for crunch, a thick slathering of tzatziki, a sprinkling of feta, and FRENCH FRIES. Yup. I die. Every time.
While my homemade version does not deliver on the fried potatoes, they are still damn good. If you can get your hands on some good pita (and I mean, GOOD pita), your whole world will transform with this meal. It’s the best twist on a sandwich that I can think of. The varying textures and flavors make my grin like an idiot while eating these gyros. They’re just so darn delicious. And satisfying. And a nice twist on the more traditional chicken dinner.
And they’re perfect for ringing in the summer this weekend on the grill. Shake things up from your traditional burger and dogs, and break out the Greek gyros! Your guests will be surprised but pleasantly so.
Oh, and save me one?
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
Splash of apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 large seedless cucumber, peeled
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I prefer 2% or whole milk yogurt for this)
Splash of apple cider vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 large seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1-2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
Iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
Warmed naan, pita, or flatbreads
Place the chicken thighs in a large resealable plastic bag. Mix the marinade ingredients well in a small bowl and then pour over the chicken. Seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and massage the mixture over the meat until everything is evenly coated.
Place the bag on a plate or in a baking dish and refrigerate. Marinate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Preheat a grill or grill pan and brush with oil. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the hot grill.
Grill for 3-4 minutes per side, until they are cooked through and golden with grill marks. Place chicken on a plate and tent with foil until you are ready to serve.
Grate the peeled cucumber on a box grater. Place the grated flesh in a fine-mesh strainer lined with paper towels. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Squeeze the excess moisture out of the cucumber and then place it in a bowl.
To the bowl, add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Season, to taste, with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate the mixture for at least 20-30 minutes before serving. The sauce can be made a few days ahead (which makes it taste even better).
Place the sliced veggies in a large mason jar (or divide between two smaller jars).
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and peppercorns and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
Pour the pickling liquid over top of the veggies. Cool to room temperature, cover, and store chilled for a minimum of 4-6 hours. The longer they sit in the fridge, the better they get.
Place a warmed naan/pita on a piece of parchment paper or tin foil. Spread some of the tzatziki on the wrap and then top with the diced tomato and shredded lettuce, followed by the chicken and pickled veggies. Top everything off with a few crumbles of feta cheese.
Drizzle everything with a little more tzatziki and then roll the flatbread and parchment paper around the fillings. Twist the ends of the parchment/foil to secure the wrap. Serve immediately.
Alternatively, set everything out “family style” and have everyone assemble their own gyros.