Punchinello’s Chronicles

March 15, 2009

Gyros Quesadillas

Filed under: Food & Recipes — Punchinello @ 9:00 am
Tags: , , ,

I’m fortunate to live near Chicago. It’s a strange city in that it’s broken up into many ethnic communities, but everyone still gets along. Pretty much, anyway. Before living here, I lived in New York, out in the suburbs. I’d never heard of gyros. That’s pronounced “yee-rhos,” for those of you who’ve never heard of it, and rhymes with Eros, the god of love. It’s not pronounced “jhy-roze.”

This delectable Greek appetizer is made of minced and seasoned lamb, which ordinarily is compressed and put onto a big metal skewer. The skewer is mounted vertically between some raw flame burners. There it turns slowly, sort of like a chicken rotisserie only vertical. When you order some, they use a big carving knife to slice off the browned meat. Then they pack that onto some warm pita bread, toss on some tomato and raw onions, and slather it with cucumber sauce. Fold over the pita bread, and you’ve got a sandwich. Not a “pocket sandwich,” a real sandwich.

This unique sauce, called tzatziki sauce, is made with Greek yogurt, seasonings, and cucumber. Here’s one link you can use, but take a look at your local supermarket deli first. More often than not, we’re seeing tzatziki sauce sold by the spoonful and it’s a lot easier to deal with that way.

We happen to have an excellent Greek fast-food place around here, too. When we want gyros, we swing in and get a couple of orders to go. Most excellent! But we’re also seeing commercial gyros meat sold in the supermarkets. So we sometimes will get 10 or so slices, fry it over medium heat, put it on some French bread and layer on the sauce. It’s not as good as real gyros, but definitely makes a great lunch.

Quesadilla, on the other hand, is Mexican food. It’s pronounced “kay-sah-DEE-yah,” and basically it’s a Mexican grilled-cheese sandwich. What makes it special is the melting cheese that comes from Mexico. You can get that in almost all supermarkets, but if you happen to have a Mexican supermarket handy, you can get it by the slice.

So we got to thinkin’…! What could we do with leftover tzatziki sauce when we’d had a fake gyros sandwich?

Having had some Taco Bell quesadillas, we thought we’d figure out how to make them on our own. How hard could it be? All you need is a large, flour tortilla. The trick is that you also need good-quality steak (for steak quesadillas), or nice chicken breast meat for the chicken version. Plus, of course, the melting cheese. We’d thought there were onions in there, but it turned out that it’s only taco seasoning sauce that gives it the slightly sour and hot bite.

Enter the Gyros Quesadilla! (Fanfare, drum-rolls, and church-organ processional music.)


1 large, flour tortilla Should be room temperature for folding in half
1 cup (approximately), or 2 slices
quesadilla cheese
You’ll want enough to sprinkle over 1/2 the tortilla
1 lamb chop, medium size Slice off the fat and cut the meat into small bites. Cook until nice and tender. Set aside.
3 slices commercial gyros meat If you can’t find this at the deli, then try the refridgerated section. They sell “gyros” kits nowadays, over by the prepared frozen dinner section. If not, you’re outta luck.

While you’re frying the meat from the lamb chop, tear up the gyros meat and throw that into the pan for additional seasoning.

2 soup spoons worth of tzatziki sauce. If you can’t find this, you’ll have to make it. But you’ll want enough to lightly cover half the tortilla.
1/2 cup chopped tomato Use a nice fresh tomato, and have enough to sprinkle over the lamb meat.

What you’re basically doing is spreading the cucumber sauce on half the tortilla. Then layer on the combination lamb meat and gyros meat (cooked already).

When you’ve got a nice layer (don’t over-do it), then sprinkle on some tomato. Finally, put a couple of slices of quesadilla melting cheese on top of that. All on only half the tortilla. You’re going to fold it over, then cook it in a pan.

One thing people do is put too much cheese on the quesadilla. If you don’t have Mexican cheese, you can substitute pepper-jack cheese or even Colby-jack. Any nice melting cheese, really, but quesadilla cheese is best.


You’ll want a large, 12″ pan. Heat it up over medium heat. Put in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then use a paper towel to wipe it around the pan.

Fold the tortilla in half, then put it in the pan. Give it about 1 minute on one side, then turn it over. Another minute on the other side, to give it a lightly browned look and melt the cheese. If you’d like, you can give it one more minute on the first side, then finally, a fourth minute on the second side.

Use a pizza cutting wheel to slice it into 4-6 pieces, and serve hot.

This tastes like the best of both worlds. It almost tastes like a real gyros sandwich on pita bread (the unleavened tortilla). But it also has the melted cheese of the quesadilla. It’s definitely finger food, and doesn’t even need sour cream!

One thing we’re going to try is to very thinly slice a layer off a red onion. Then sprinkle that onto the tortilla before we brown it.

Another tip to keep in mind is that when you flip the tortilla in the frying pan, life the outer edges. Flip around the folded edge. That way food won’t fall out into the frying pan.


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