Yes, most Coney Islands have very extensive menus. But what happens when you decide that you don’t want to eat at a restaurant because you are going to save money? Do you revert to your same old recipes or do you make dishes that are reminiscent of what you would order if you were still going to restaurants?
I do a little of both — cook some of my favorites a few days and try to imitate some of the menu items at my special haunts on other days. One dish that I copied and decided that I really liked my version even better than the restaurant version was a chicken gyros. I thought some of the ingredients would be difficult to find in a regular grocer, but I found everything during one trip. I also wondered what kind of food was tsatsiki, but after making the dish I realized that it is a tangy, Greek yogurt sauce that’s quite tasty. Actually, I liked tsatsiki so much that I used the leftovers on another sandwich the next day. This dish has quite a few steps but if you enjoy cooking, you will enjoy the preparation as well as the taste.
So the next time you’re riding past a restaurant, save your money and make your own concoction instead. You’ll save money and still enjoy a tasty meal.
Chicken Gyros with Cucumber Salsa and Tsatsiki
2 Kirby cucumbers, divided
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt (3/4 pounds)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, divided
5 garlic cloves, minced, divided
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 rounded teaspoon dried oregano
1 rounded teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
1 (12-ounces) package naan bread (four 8-inch pieces) or 4 (8-inch) pocketless pita rounds
1/2 roast chicken, skin discarded, meat shredded
(about 2 1/4 cups), and carcass reserved for stock
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced
Preheat broiler. Peel and grate 1 cucumber, then squeeze it with your hands to remove excess water. Stir together with yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, one third of garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to make tsatsiki.
Cut remaining cucumber into 1/4-inch pieces and stir together with tomatoes, onion, parsley, mint, remaining 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to make salsa.
Gently simmer oil, oregano, rosemary, remaining garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small heavy saucepan, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant but not browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Toss chicken with 3 tablespoons garlic oil and brush one side of bread with remainder.
Heat bread, oiled side up, in a 4-sided sheet pan, covered with foil, 3 to 4 inches from broiler 3 minutes. Uncover and broil, rotating bread for even coloring, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes.
Spread some of tsatsiki on warm bread and top with chicken and some of lettuce and salsa. Serve remaining lettuce, salsa, and tsatsiki on the side.
Cooks’ note: Tsatsiki can be made one day ahead and chilled.
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