Enjoy Halal Gyros!
Let’s start with Gyros are not. Occasionally the name Gyros and a product known as Shawarmah are used interchangeably. Though they share some things in common such as origin and cooking technique, the differences between the two are notable. Where as Shawarmah is made with pieces of meat from lamb, beef, or chicken – Gyros (YEAR-ros) is traditionally made by blending lamb, beef, and seasonings. In the last couple of years however, Gyros made entirely with beef are becoming more popular. It is fitting that Gyros takes its name from the Greek word ‘turning’ because Gyros are traditionally cooked by slowly turning on a skewer in front of an open flame. This traditional method of cooking continues today. Maybe you have seen a vertical broiler in a restaurant with a Gyros cone slowly cooking. The aroma is very inviting.
Let me take you through the process of how the Gyros cone goes form cuts of meat and seasoning all the way to turning on a restaurants vertical broiler. Choice cuts of beef and lamb are ground together. Breadcrumbs and traditional spices are folded into the meat mixture. Next, this mixture of meat, spices and breadcrumbs are forced at high-pressure into a cylinder. The meat is removed from the cylinder and is trimmed very quickly by hand into the classic Gyros cone shape. The Gyros cone is then blast-frozen, packaged, and ready to ship. When the restaurant owner receives a Gyros cone he places it on a specially designed skewer and begins cooking it on a specially designed vertical broiler. The Gyros cone cooks from frozen and as the cone slowly turns it begins to roast. Layer after layer of juicy hot slices are cut away as the cone cooks. The Gyros meat is very tasty on its own but when diced tomatoes, onions, and the savory yogurt sauce loaded with cucumbers and garlic known as Tzatziki (za-ZEE-kee) sauce, are pilled on top and the whole thing is wrapped up in lightly grilled flat pita the results are really delicious.
Shawarmah is also cone shaped but the technique for making the cone is different. Shawarmah is made up of whole cuts of marinated meat and pieces of fat that are layered and topped with an onion and lemon. A Gyros cone is made when whole cuts of meat are ground together. Just like a Gyros cone the Shawarmah cone cooks as it turns. The Shawarmah chef uses his sharp knife to cut off paper thin slices of cooked meat which are then served with salad and yogurt and placed in a pocket pita.
Next time you’re out make a point to try a Gyro sandwich. A Gyro is unlike anything else you’ve ever tried. It is uniquely Greek.
(Prepared by Thad Smith)
Since Olympia food industries contacted IFANCA back in 1995 to have their Gyros cones certified as Halal for one single customer, the number of companies marketing Halal Gyros has grown to six across USA and Canada. Halal Gyros cones were so popular that the company added fully cooked Halal Gyros slices to its product line. The following companies are now marketing Halal Gyros:
Olympia Food Industries, USA
Kronos Products, Inc., USA
Kontos Foods, Inc., USA
Corfu Foods, Inc., USA
Devanco Foods, Inc., USA
Chicago Gyros Foods, Canada
“Please Note: Not all the products of a company are certified Halal. For actual listing please contact the company”