Can you say Tzatziki (za-ZEE-kee)? Honestly, it’s more difficult to say it than to make it. Which is a good thing, because it’s the magic potion that sends this Greek-inspired sandwich into the flavor stratosphere. And I promise, after one bite, no one will care if you bungle the pronunciation.
On the other hand, unless you have been seeking enlightenment in a Himalayan monastery for the past decade or two, you probably know how to pronounce gyro (YEER-oh). Armed with these two pronunciations, the best steak you can find, and a little skill at the grill, you can be a hero this summer. But do a couple of trial runs now in April, to make sure you have the process down pat by the balmy evenings of May.
The cut of beef known in the Northwest as a New York steak (or New York strip steak) is taken from the short loin area of the cow. It is a tender cut (although not as tender as the tenderloin or rib eye) with full beef flavor that holds its own paired with bold marinades. Ideally, it is well-marbled with fat, which helps keep it juicy all the way from the grill to your quivering lips.
You can use other cuts of beef in this sandwich, but I am especially enamored with New York steak right now. It is expensive, for sure, but for this dish, two steaks will feed 4 people rather nicely.
Lime-Marinated Steak Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce, Tomatoes, Onions, Feta, and Mint
This has to be one of the best sandwiches in the universe. It’s festive enough to feed a celebratory horde and easy enough to make for just the two of you, for no reason other than to eat sublimely well. I prepare the Tzatziki Sauce and garnishes in the morning and then marinade the steaks 2 hours before grilling. It takes only 10 minutes to grill the steaks to perfection.
4 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup light olive oil
2 USDA Prime (or Choice if you can’t get Prime), boneless, well-marbled New York strip steaks, at least 1½-inches thick
combination of half olive oil, half melted butter, for brushing steaks
freshly ground sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1½ cups shredded English cucumber (1/2 large cucumber)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup Greek-style yogurt
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 ripe tomato, cut in half horizontally, seeded, and chopped
½ red onion, peeled and slivered
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
1 lime, cut lengthwise into quarters
4 fresh, soft flat breads, warmed briefly in a microwave just before serving (I prefer the thicker, softer naan-style breads to the breads labeled pita in most grocery stores.)
Marinate the steak:
- In a mixing bowl, combine the garlic, lime juice, and olive oil.
- Arrange the steaks in a shallow baking dish and pour the marinade over the top. Marinate for 2 hours at room temperature or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator. (If you marinate in the refrigerator, let sit at room temperature for 40 minutes before grilling.) Turn the steaks over halfway through the allotted time.
- When ready to cook, remove the steaks from the marinade and discard the marinade. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels and then brush all surfaces lightly with oil. Season each side of the steaks liberally with freshly ground salt and pepper.
Prepare the sauce (while steak is marinating):
- Put the shredded cucumber into a colander set over a bowl that will catch the juices, and toss with the salt. Let sit 30 minutes, then squeeze as much liquid as you can from the cucumbers. Put the cucumbers into the work bowl of a processor fitted with the steel knife and pulse to puree.
- Spoon the yogurt into a medium-size mixing bowl, and whisk to smooth out any lumps.
- Add the cucumber, garlic, and lime juice. Salt to taste.
Grill the steak:
- Prepare the grill, using mesquite charcoal if possible. Heat level should be high, 500-600 degrees. Grill steaks for 4-5 minutes per side (turning only once); the outside should be appetizingly charred, but the interior should still be rare or medium-rare at most.
- Remove the steak from the grill to a plate, cover with heavy foil and let rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute evenly throughout the meat. Then lay the steak on a cutting board, and cut it precisely against the grain into thin (1/4-inch) slices. (Do not cut on the diagonal! This will negate the effect of tenderness gained by cutting directly against the grain.)
Build the gyro:
- Place a warmed pita bread on a dinner plate and top with Tzatziki sauce, a quarter of the sliced steak, a spoonful each of tomatoes, onion, and feta cheese, and a sprinkling each of parsley and mint.
- Squeeze a little lime juice over the top, fold to enclose the filling, and serve immediately. Repeat with the other three servings.
- Kalyn’s Kitchen: World’s Best Tzatziki Sauce Recipe – Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce
- New York Magazine: How to Grill the Perfect Steak
- Squiddo: How to Cook a New York Strip Steak
- The Kitchn: How to Broil a Steak in the Oven
- The Virtual Weber Bullet: Meat Charts
Copyright 2011 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.