The cooking part of this recipe takes about 2-3 hours, but at the end of that waiting period, you will be rewarded with caramel-brown, lemony, crispy lamb that practically falls apart when you look at it. Isn’t that worth a few hours of bubbling atop the stove? And the seasonings! The cumin is rich and earthy, the mint adds just the right bite, and the citrus juice creates a deep, layered flavor while it slyly tenderizes the meat. Gyros are usually served with pita bread and a sauce made from yogurt — both a no-no in the paleo world. This deconstructed salad delivers all the flavor of the original, without the downside of dairy and gluten.
- 3-4 pounds lamb shoulder roast
- 2 tablespoons dried mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon coarse (granulated) garlic powder
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup lemon juice
- Diced tomatoes
- Diced red onion
- Diced cucumber
- Shredded lettuce
- 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade; see recipe)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon za’atar
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper
- 1/2 clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- With a sharp knife, cut the lamb shoulder into 3- to 4-inch chunks. You don’t want them bite-sized. Place the lamb pieces in a large ziplock bag.
- In a small bowl, rub the mint and oregano leaves between your palms to crush them. Add the cumin, Aleppo pepper, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper; mix with a fork until blended. Add the spice blend to the bag, zip it closed, and shake assertively until all the lamb pieces are coated with the spices.
- Place the lamb in a large, deep pot. Pour the lemon juice into the bottom of the pot, then add water to just cover the meat.
- Place the pot on high heat and bring the water to a rip-roaring boil. When it’s rolling, reduce the heat to keep a steady, strong simmer with the pan uncovered. The liquid should bubble a fair amount, but should not be a vigorous boil. While it’s cooking, it will look like uninspired soup. Do not be discouraged! As the water evaporates, the acidic qualities of the lemon juice tenderize and flavor the meat.
- At about the 2-hour mark, check the pot. The water should be much lower and maybe even almost gone. Allow all the water to cook out of the pan and watch as the meat magically fries and caramelizes in the fat and fruit juice.
- Carefully turn the hunks of meat — without shredding them — to brown all sides, then remove the hunks to a plate and let them rest for 5 minutes before eating.
- While the meat rests, make the dressing. In a small bowl, crush the dried mint with your fingers, then add mayo, parsley, za’atar, Aleppo pepper, and garlic. Blend well with a fork. Drizzle in the lemon juice, mixing with the fork, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the raw vegetables on the plate, add the lamb, and drizzle with the dressing.
Olive Oil Mayo
Lemony, light, silky, and luxurious, this mayo makes just about everything better. Indulge with a dollop on grilled meat, transform it into creamy salad dressing in a flash, or stir it into a can of tuna for instant salad. Mix up a batch every week in the blender or food processor to rediscover creamy salads and sauces.
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup plus 1 cup light-tasting olive oil (not extra-virgin!)
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In a blender or food processor, place the egg and the lemon juice. Put the lid on your appliance and allow the liquids to come to room temperature, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
- Add 1/4 cup oil, dry mustard, and salt to the canister and blend on medium until the ingredients are combined. Now the exciting part begins. Your mission is to incorporate the remaining 1 cup oil by pouring very, very slowly. You want the skinniest drizzle you can manage; this takes about 2 to 3 minutes. If you’re using a blender, you’ll hear the pitch change as the liquid begins to form the emulsion. Eventually, the substance inside the blender will resemble traditional mayonnaise, only far more beautiful.
- When all of the oil is incorporated, revel in your triumph and transfer the mayo to a container with a lid. Mark a calendar with your egg expiration date — that’s when your mayo expires, too.
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