the appetizer:

The Whole Hog Cookbook, Chops, Loin, Shoulder, Bacon, and All That Good Stuff by Libbie Summers includes recipes like Pork Belly Gyros with Mykonian Tzatziki Sauce; Spanish-Style Rioja Potatoes; and How To Prepare Hot Peppered Pickled Pig's Feet.

Cookbook Profile

Pork Belly Gyros
with Mykonian Tzatziki Sauce

Serves 4

Pork Belly Gyros


For a stretch of four years, I was lucky enough to be a resident on the Greek island of Mykonos for a couple of months each year. I'd go to recharge my creative batteries, drink some ouzo, dive for sea urchin roe, and sleep. Standing on the edge of the cerulean blue Aegean Sea and overlooking the tan bodies of Grecian gods in Speedos, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be and where I needed to go next. Of course, as nourishing as all that introspection was for my soul, this girl needed to eat. And that's when I discovered the Mykonian gyro. I'd had gyros before. I bought one off a food cart in New York, ate a gut bomb from the county fair, and worse yet, ordered a gyro from some Midwestern chain where my server referred to it as a "gee-RO." Anywhere you live, someone's making some trashy gyro, but I'm here to tell you that there ain't no gyro like a gyro in Greece.

On Mykonos, I'd have to get on my dirt bike and ride ten minutes across the island from where I lived to get my hands on my beloved gyro. Then I'd have to wait in a long line with the rest of the gyro-philes, all itching for a fix. I couldn't say much in Greek—but I sure as hell could order a gyro just the way I wanted it. I wanted tomatoes, French fries, and tzatziki all wrapped inside wonderful just-baked flatbread that was oiled and warmed on the griddle. I didn't want any meat. I didn't want any onions. All I wanted was that warm flatbread and a few fillers to soak up that amazing sauce.

Over time, I made friends with the owner of the restaurant, Stavros, a man who also performed Greek dances for the tourists at night, and he let me in on a few secrets of the sauce. Most important, he explained, looking me deep in the eye for emphasis, you gotta let that stuff just marinate. Twenty-four hours. You can't make tzatziki sauce and eat it immediately because that garlic has got to marry in with the wonderful fresh cucumber, tangy vinegar, and the olive oil that smoothes it all out. And once you add the Greek yogurt, it's a perfect union.

I learned to perfect a tzatziki sauce of my own. Here I'm using this wonderful tzatziki recipe to make my pork gyros with silky pork belly. It's a simple recipe you'll find yourself making again and again. Grilling the marinated pork belly is absolutely amazing. A more perfect union.

Every place I've ever visited, I've come to associate with a dish. And the relationship between that food and the place it's from is so strong that I can't imagine ever experiencing the place without it. For me, Mykonos and gyros will forever go hand in hand. Together they represent summertime, beach, sand, and cute Greek boys—but that's another story.

Put the pork belly strips in a zip-top bag along with the oregano, garlic, and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Heat a grill pan to medium-high and cook the pork belly for 4 minutes on each side, or until browned, for a total of 16 to 20 minutes cooking time. (Note: A lot of fat will be rendered; you may need to pour some off while cooking.) Cut the cooked meat into pieces.

Heat a large flat skillet over medium-high heat. Brush one side of each flat bread with oil and place the bread on the hot skillet until it is warmed through, but not toasted (the pita bread should still be very pliable).

To assemble, divide the cooked pork belly among the 4 warmed flatbreads. Top each with 2 wedges of tomato, some onion, and 1/4 cup of the tzatziki sauce. Roll the flatbread up and individually wrap each gyro in a square of parchment paper. Serve immediately.


Mykonian Tzatziki Sauce

Yields 1-1/2 cups

Stir together the yogurt, garlic, cucumber, oil, and vinegar in a medium mixing bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.

For the best tzatziki sauce flavor, make it a day ahead and refrigerate. Let it come to room temperature before using, and stir it well before serving.


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This page created November 2011