The gyro (however you choose to pronounce it, ”yero’, ‘jy-ro’, ‘geer-o’) is a sandwich of Greek origin consisting of vertically spit roasted meat, cucumber sauce, onion and tomato on a split or folded pita. The name comes from the Greek word which means “turn” – a description of the meat roasting on the revolving vertical spit. The meat is thin sliced and placed into the folded pita with the condiments. Documented history of the sandwich dates back to the 19th century.
Chicago’s Devanco Foods is one of several large suppliers of gyro sandwich fixings; they supply to both restaurants and package in retail for purchase by consumers at groceries. The kits are “heat and eat” affairs, weighing in at about two and a half pounds, and priced in the $8-$9 range. Contents include six pitas, 10 ounces of tzatziki (cucumber) sauce, and a pound of gyro meat, which is beef, lamb, breadcrumbs, flavoring and spices. The kit is supposed to make six sandwiches, which comes out to about a buck and a half each, considerably less than restaurant pricing. Consumers may add tomatoes and onions to their sandwich, which they must supply from their home pantry.
The product is sold frozen (hard) and instructions recommend thawing the ingredients overnight in the refrigerator. Further instructions allow for heating the thawed product in the microwave or in a skillet on a stove top. The box further directs consumers to place ‘about’ 5 slices of meat in each sandwich.
Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, I wasn’t aware of gyros until the advent of adulthood, and later, when work took me to the Middle East, the variations became a favorite. The sandwiches were also quite plentiful when I lived in Paris, in the 10th, as our neighbors were primarily Turkish and there were a lot of shawarma/gyro shops in the neighborhood.
In addition to gyro fixings, Devanco makes other Chicago favorites, including Ditka’s Italian Beef (review), various types of Giardiniera, a pickled vegetable mix Chicagoans enjoy on hot dogs and other sandwiches.
As always, I went with stove top prep, believing “slow and low” the key to success in the kitchen, most of the time. I did add tomatoes and onions to my pita.
Will you notice much of a difference between these heat and eat versions and ones you’d purchase at a shop? Not really. One exception would be at a shop you can ask for ‘crispy’ bits of meat, and some shops add lettuce, which I eschew on any sandwich. Devanco’s meat is tasty, they include an ample amount of cucumber sauce, and their pitas are about as good as any anywhere. Funny, near my old house in Portland there are some hummus shops, and the one that specializes in hummus has the worst pita and chips I’ve ever consumed anywhere.
Would I buy the kit again? Absolutely! Tasty food, great value.
Devanco Gyro Kit