Author Topic: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?  (Read 1011 times)

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Online Moe M.

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Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« on: March 05, 2018, 07:30:30 AM »
  While the wife and I were watching TV one night about a week ago she asked me if I remembered a small diner in town that we used to eat at a couple of times a week when we worked on the PD together, the place was owned by a Greek guy named George and his wife, a lovely girl from India, they were a great couple and really good cooks.
  George's specialty and the reason his little eatery was so popular in the area was his home made Gyro sandwiches and his wife's Indian cooking,  George made his own Gyro meat roll, his wife (I wish I could remember her name) made the yogurt & cucumber sauce that went into the sandwich and she also made the Pita bread that formed the wrap for the sandwich.
  This was back in the late '70's into the mid '80's, and it was the first time anyone in our area had ever heard of or tried a real Gyro sandwich, and it proved to be a winner for both George and area townspeople alike,  it's funny that things like that that you haven't thought about in decades pop into your mind for no other reason than it's just presents itself.
  Anyway,  I started doing some research into recipes for the meat and the traditional sauce,  from what little I've picked up it looks pretty simple to make at home,  it's a bit like making meat loaf, but is a bit more labor intensive as far as the prep time and steps that are involved.
  One of issues that I need to refine is the type of ground meats that could be used as a substitute for Lamb which is the traditional meat used for making the cone shaped loaf,  in my area of the country most of the Lamb found in our groceries and meat markets is imported from New Zealand and Iceland and it's pretty expensive and not always easy to find.
  As far as the seasonings for the mix goes they are pretty standard with a few exceptions in different recipes and the seasonings are the biggest part of the flavor of the finished meat and the texture which set it apart from conventional loaf type meats,  it's suggested in most traditional recipes that Lamb imparts just enough of it's own flavor to make a difference, but just how much difference is the question.

  So, if anyone here has any experience or knowhow that would help it would be greatly appreciated.
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Offline Pete Bog

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2018, 08:59:47 AM »
Moe, I understand where your coming from. Wonderful tastes from years ago. Squid rings in Palma de Mallorca, Souvlaki (sp?) in Athens are things I'll probably never taste again. The wife is seriously allergic to anything sheep related so I almost never get to a Greek restaurant. That having been said, the lamb has such a unique taste, I don't think anything will make a satisfactory substitute. luckily, the lamb is a bold taste by our typically bland american standard and a small amount should deliver the taste you remember. You'll probably have to bruise the wallet a little and purchase the real thing.
   I hope it works out for you. Some recipes are so sensitive, just adding ingredients in the wrong sequence can change them.
   There was a little one man Sub shop down by Military Mall in Norfolk Va back in the '70's. He made his own dressing. Yeah, I'll never have a sub sandwich that good again.

Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2018, 09:14:04 AM »
Gyros were a must-have stop every time we visited the Pike Place Market in Seattle years ago.  The lamb was cooking on a vertical rotisserie in a glass-sided oven behind the counter. The meat was shaved off paper thin, sauced and baked in a pastry. To die for! As I recall, the pastry was also seasoned, which may have been responsible for some of the unique flavors. I've had gyros at several fairs, and even a restaurant since then, and nothing comes close to the stuff at the Market.
I've never tried making my own, probably assuming I'd be disappointed by the results. :shrug:
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Offline madmax

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2018, 11:26:35 AM »
My problem with giros is my wife too.  I almost had her trying it when she asked what was in it.  When he said lamb I got the lip curl and walk away.  Kinda like the time I almost had her eating squirrel.  Some big mouth blurted out what it was.  That's OK.  I still love her.
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Offline Yeoman

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2018, 12:06:34 PM »
I've never done gyro meat, but I've tried a recipe for donair meat.
Donairs are a Halifax original that have started to spread out elsewhere.
Similar idea to gyros.
The recipe below is okay, however it's not the same as a real donair as they are slow broiled on a vertical turning spit all day long.

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/211191/the-original-donair-from-the-east-coast-of-canada/

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Online Moe M.

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2018, 12:14:33 PM »
  I'd like to think I've gained some wisdom over the years since then,  today when ever I experience a great meal or specially prepared food I try to get the recipe if at all possible,  like most recipes gained from people who have been making specific dishes over long times, they usually can't be recreated perfectly.
  I'm a fly by the seat of my pants cook,  I learned from my parents and grand parents that recipes are only basic guides or outlines,  that the true flavors developed by the cook are created by tasting and adjusting to ones own palate and by knowing how different foods and seasonings react with one another.
  Back then my priorities were different, I lived in the moment and it never dawned on me that George and his Gyro's would not always be there,  so I didn't think to ask for his recipe,  the one thing I do know is that they made the meat loaf, sauce, and flat bread from scratch in their small kitchen without the aid of any specialty appliances or cookware.
  I'm thinking that his recipe and methodology were probably handed down from his folks,  I've gathered some recipes and ingredient lists and several different cooking methods using an oven and another hanging the loaf on a vertical skewer in a barrel cooker,  most home recipes call for baking the loaf in a conventional bread pan,  at the moment I'm remembering Wolfy's method of baking his round sausage loaf in a slow oven wrapped in aluminum foil.
 Before I actually try making one I have to get more info on the possibility of meat substitutions,  I'm pretty sure I have the seasonings right and the method needed to prep the meat which calls for grating and squeezing the juces from the onion,  and processing the regular ground meat down to a more paste like texture,  then blending all the ingredients together thoroughly, compacting the mixture into a pan or bowl and and placing it in the fridge overnight to allow the flavors to develop and blend.
 The mixture is then made into a loaf and baked in a medium oven for about an hour or so depending on how big it is,  once cooked it has to cool undisturbed in the baking pan to room temp,  then placed back into the fridge for another over night rest before it can be used if you want to experience the best results.
 The sauce is made using grated onion, grated cucumber (which again, both have to have most of the juice removed by squeezing out as much as possible by wringing it out through a porous towel),  then adding that to some plain thick Greek styled yogurt, a little lemon juice,  and a couple of other seasonings,  mixed well and refrigerated overnight.

 This may seem too labor intensive for some folks,  but I'm thinking of it as an adventure in cooking and have to try it at least once,  if it turns out good I may make it more often. 
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Offline Yellowyak

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2018, 12:26:58 PM »
Years back we made Alton Brown's recipe for Gyros and used the rotisserie on our outdoor grill with an infra-red burner to cook it (https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/gyro-meat-with-tzatziki-sauce-recipe-2047710). We did use ground lamb purchased locally.

From what I recall it was very tasty, and the texture was good, but the meat didn't want to stay together on the rotisserie while it was spinning at first. We ended up wrapping it in aluminum foil for the fist bit of cooking then removing it for the final spinning.

Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2018, 12:33:39 PM »
  I'd like to think I've gained some wisdom over the years since then,  today when ever I experience a great meal or specially prepared food I try to get the recipe if at all possible,  ....
LOL! Be careful what you ask for. A well-heeled friend of mine took his wife to one of the fancier restaurants in Seattle. She enjoyed the meal so much she said she wanted the recipe.  When the Maitre D' returned with their bill for the meal he brought the recipe scrawled on a scrap of paper. The price of the dinner was $75...and the bill for the recipe was $800!
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Online Moe M.

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2018, 12:59:53 PM »
I've never done gyro meat, but I've tried a recipe for donair meat.
Donairs are a Halifax original that have started to spread out elsewhere.
Similar idea to gyros.
The recipe below is okay, however it's not the same as a real donair as they are slow broiled on a vertical turning spit all day long.

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/211191/the-original-donair-from-the-east-coast-of-canada/

  Thanks,  It sounds like the creator of the Donair sandwich was trying to reach the same goal that I am working on, but stopped short of perfecting it,  which evidently worked out well for him.
  The traditional Gyro meat is also made from ground Lamb,  it's shaped into a large cone and baked slowly on a vertical spit,  before the advent of ground meat (the Gyro goes back a long way) the way it was made was to cut fairly thin slices of meat which were impaled on a long skewer that had a plate on the bottom, larger slices of the meat were placed on the skewer first then progressively smaller slices were placed one on top of the other and seasoning sprinkled on between the layers,  when the meat was all placed a weighted plate with a hole in the center was placed over the skewer on top of the meat to slowly compact it as it cooked,
  The skewer was hanged over a pit of coals on a rope or chain and rotated  occasionally for even cooking,  the idea behind the cone shape was that the rising heat hit the larger pieces first that required a longer cooking time and reached the smaller pieces last which required less heat and cooking time resulting in a more even over all cooking, also as the smaller slices at the top cooked the cooking juices ran down the sides of the cone shaped loaf basting those underneath,  also as the collagen in the meat began to break down it acted as the glue that would eventually hold it all together as a solid piece of meat.
  When the cone shaped loaf was finished cooking the cook trimmed the meat to a uniform shape,  and got to take home all the scraps that had been trimmed off.     
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Online Moe M.

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2018, 01:25:05 PM »
Years back we made Alton Brown's recipe for Gyros and used the rotisserie on our outdoor grill with an infra-red burner to cook it (https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/gyro-meat-with-tzatziki-sauce-recipe-2047710). We did use ground lamb purchased locally.

From what I recall it was very tasty, and the texture was good, but the meat didn't want to stay together on the rotisserie while it was spinning at first. We ended up wrapping it in aluminum foil for the fist bit of cooking then removing it for the final spinning.

  Thanks Greg,  before I attempt to actually make it I'll explore the possibility of getting some ground Lamb, everyone that has posted recipes on U-Tube has said the same thing,  that the only way to get the true taste is to use Lamb,  I just hate to buy Lamb Chops at $14.00 bucks a pound and grind them up to make a two pound meatloaf,  it would likely end up costing me $75.00 dollars after deboning the meat.
  At this point I haven't even checked to see if ground Lamb is available or affordable,  as far as baking it I do have a rotisserie that was on my gas grill which I gave away,  I have hopes of adapting it to my barrel smoker grill but haven't got around to it yet.
  Wolfy had a great series of posts going on making his home made sausage by baking it in a cylinder shape by wrapping it in foil and baking it in the oven, I'll probably give that a try first. 
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Offline imnukensc

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2018, 01:47:44 PM »
I've never done gyro meat, but I've tried a recipe for donair meat.
Donairs are a Halifax original that have started to spread out elsewhere.
Similar idea to gyros.
The recipe below is okay, however it's not the same as a real donair as they are slow broiled on a vertical turning spit all day long.

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/211191/the-original-donair-from-the-east-coast-of-canada/

  Thanks,  It sounds like the creator of the Donair sandwich was trying to reach the same goal that I am working on, but stopped short of perfecting it,  which evidently worked out well for him.
  The traditional Gyro meat is also made from ground Lamb,  it's shaped into a large cone and baked slowly on a vertical spit,  before the advent of ground meat (the Gyro goes back a long way) the way it was made was to cut fairly thin slices of meat which were impaled on a long skewer that had a plate on the bottom, larger slices of the meat were placed on the skewer first then progressively smaller slices were placed one on top of the other and seasoning sprinkled on between the layers,  when the meat was all placed a weighted plate with a hole in the center was placed over the skewer on top of the meat to slowly compact it as it cooked,
  The skewer was hanged over a pit of coals on a rope or chain and rotated  occasionally for even cooking,  the idea behind the cone shape was that the rising heat hit the larger pieces first that required a longer cooking time and reached the smaller pieces last which required less heat and cooking time resulting in a more even over all cooking, also as the smaller slices at the top cooked the cooking juices ran down the sides of the cone shaped loaf basting those underneath,  also as the collagen in the meat began to break down it acted as the glue that would eventually hold it all together as a solid piece of meat.
  When the cone shaped loaf was finished cooking the cook trimmed the meat to a uniform shape,  and got to take home all the scraps that had been trimmed off.     

Sounds a bit like shawarma https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawarma
Or doner https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doner_kebab
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2018, 02:09:32 PM »
...
  Wolfy had a great series of posts going on making his home made sausage by baking it in a cylinder shape by wrapping it in foil and baking it in the oven, I'll probably give that a try first.
I've made the Oven Sausage from ground beef, venison and pork for years. The only drawback I see to using this method for your purpose is that the resulting 'log' comes out very hard and dry. Great sausage, but way too hard to slice as you describe.

...
  The traditional Gyro meat is also made from ground Lamb,  it's shaped into a large cone and baked slowly on a vertical spit,  before the advent of ground meat (the Gyro goes back a long way) the way it was made was to cut fairly thin slices of meat which were impaled on a long skewer that had a plate on the bottom, larger slices of the meat were placed on the skewer first then progressively smaller slices were placed one on top of the other and seasoning sprinkled on between the layers,  when the meat was all placed a weighted plate with a hole in the center was placed over the skewer on top of the meat to slowly compact it as it cooked,
  The skewer was hanged over a pit of coals on a rope or chain and rotated  occasionally for even cooking,  the idea behind the cone shape was that the rising heat hit the larger pieces first that required a longer cooking time and reached the smaller pieces last which required less heat and cooking time resulting in a more even over all cooking, also as the smaller slices at the top cooked the cooking juices ran down the sides of the cone shaped loaf basting those underneath,  also as the collagen in the meat began to break down it acted as the glue that would eventually hold it all together as a solid piece of meat.
  When the cone shaped loaf was finished cooking the cook trimmed the meat to a uniform shape,  and got to take home all the scraps that had been trimmed off.     

I think I got this quote right... :-\
The vertical roast meat at Pike Place Market appeared to have been made this way, but the pointy end was down. But the heat was applied by electric elements along the sides of the oven, so a bottom heat differential wasn't an issue. Also, the skewer had metal plates at both ends so the meat could be mechanically compressed. I think the only reason there was that shape to the stack was because the meat source couldn't be slices in uniform slices without wasting a lot.

As for the price of lamb, we still have a leg o' lamb in the freezer we got from Costco for about $5.00/lb.
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Online Moe M.

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2018, 03:22:36 PM »
...
  Wolfy had a great series of posts going on making his home made sausage by baking it in a cylinder shape by wrapping it in foil and baking it in the oven, I'll probably give that a try first.
I've made the Oven Sausage from ground beef, venison and pork for years. The only drawback I see to using this method for your purpose is that the resulting 'log' comes out very hard and dry. Great sausage, but way too hard to slice as you describe.

As for the price of lamb, we still have a leg o' lamb in the freezer we got from Costco for about $5.00/lb.

  Keep in mind that I'm only talking through my hat,  everything I've said on the subject comes from what I've read in my on line research, I haven't actually put anything to practice yet.

  The hard and dry that you mention has been addressed in a few of the how to's that I've read or watched on u-tube,  in each case the presenter states that if the loaf is not cooled and refrigerated overnight before it's used it will be dry and hard,  the fix for this is the cooling off and 24 hours in the fridge.
  Again, this is just theory until I get a chance to actually try it,  what they are suggesting is that it takes that long because of the denseness of the meat (starting out in the oven with the texture of a paste) for the cooking juices to be assimilated back into the meat completely,  doing this supposedly makes the meat more moist and tender than if it were sliced and used as soon as it comes out of the oven,  that said,  all of the recipes call for baking or roasting the meat in a roasting pan and using a lean to fat ratio of 85% lean/15% fat which will result in a good deal of pan drippings.
  If I do try baking it in foil in the shape of a log I don't intend to leave drain holes in the foil in hopes that it will retain it's cooking liquid,  right now anything is possible in the planning stage, what happens when it hits the oven, I don't have a clue.
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Offline Unknown

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2018, 03:45:48 PM »
Try looking up local breeders of meat sheep or ask around a farmers market. Should be able to score some like that.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2018, 04:52:03 PM »
MOE:
Wolfy had a great series of posts going on making his home made sausage by baking it in a cylinder shape by wrapping it in foil and baking it in the oven, I'll probably give that a try first.

OLD PHILOSOPHER:
I've made the Oven Sausage from ground beef, venison and pork for years. The only drawback I see to using this method for your purpose is that the resulting 'log' comes out very hard and dry. Great sausage, but way too hard to slice as you describe.

WOLFY:
I remember some dialogue on the WOLFY'S DEER SUMMER SAUSAGE thread where Ol'P and I were discussing the merits of foil-wrapped vs non-foil-wrapped cooking of the sausage meat logs.  As an experiment, I cooked 1/2 my recipe wrapped and 1/2 the recipe unwrapped.  The unwrapped version was not as popular with my Texas nieces as was the wrapped version.  I'd wager that if you wrapped & cooked your experimental gyros in pierced foil, the chances are better for the product you're hoping to mimic.  http://bladesandbushlore.com/index.php?topic=3820.0

As for a source for your ground lamb (where you don't have to grind expensive lamb chops)......have you thought of hitting a local farmer's market?  After all, a lamb isn't ALL lamb chops!  There is trim that certainly isn't thrown in the garbage can!   What else could they do with it, but grind it? :shrug:
« Last Edit: March 05, 2018, 04:58:44 PM by wolfy »
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Offline xj35s

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2018, 05:23:59 PM »
On the subject of lamb I have a serious question.

My in laws raised sheep. at dinner my M.I.L insisted I eat the mint jelly with the lamb or it wouldn't digest. I did not eat any Mint Jelly and she got crazy. Is this a religious thing or was she trying to poison me? My point was anything that goes into my belly will digest or come back up with or without mint jelly. :shrug:

Any Gyro's I've had were basically steakumm's yuk. We do have a Greek restaurant here in Fulton that my father loved. It's a small place and on a corner so it's difficult to get into. Might be worth the stop though. Ya'll got me hungry now.
 
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Offline Unknown

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2018, 05:45:36 PM »
That just might be your answer xJ- it has to get into the belly.  :shrug:

I mean some people don't like lamb and even fewer are regular mutton munchers. So maybe a lil jelly makes it go down easier. We had some lamb, prepared by friends of my wife- really into being Irish they are. Whoa man was that stuff tough and gamey. I vaguely recall mint jelly being there- I didn't partake of much. (They just weren't my kind of cooks)

I grew up eating lots of BBQ mutton. Didn't even know what brisket was until moving to Oklahoma.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2018, 06:36:08 PM »
Mutton tallow = deer tallow :puke:
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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2018, 07:22:36 PM »
Mutton tallow = deer tallow :puke:

Don't lick the axe handle? good for wood tools and grasping mocs. I wouldn't eat it. Though if you want to bbq it you want a good fat cap
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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2018, 07:24:09 PM »
I love gyros but have never tried making it. I have watched it done on several cooking shows and they do not use ground meat, presumably because it would be pretty hard to get it to stick together. The ones I saw they sliced the meat then marinated the meat, chicken and lamb, then stacked it on the skewer and cooked as you have seen. Makes my mouth water
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Online Moe M.

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Re: Gyros, has anyone here ever tried to make Gyro meat ?
« Reply #20 on: March 07, 2018, 10:37:20 AM »
  Well I did some looking around my area and found a local butcher shop that can fix me up with some ground Lamb that is reasonably priced, an 85% lean to 15% fat ratio priced at about $6.00 a pound,  and Pete Moss messaged me about a farm store that deals in lamb products about 20 minutes from my place (thanks a bunch Pete),  so it looks like I'm about ready to give it a try.
  In giving it more thought and going back on what information I already have and something OP said about over drying the meat I was reminded about taking extra care in not loosing too much of the cooking juices,  I was thinking about baking it in a rounded foil wrap to get a more traditional shape,  but I'm not too sure about liquid retention using that method.
  Several of the recipes that seemed to be better informed suggested that a bread loaf baking pan worked best for home chefs,  the juices are released into the pan as the meat slowly cooks,  then when done the meat is left to cool in it's own juices,  then it's placed still in it's baking pan tightly covered with foil into the fridge for at least 24 hours,  during which time all the cooking juices are re absorbed into the meat keeping it moist. 
  Over the weekend I'll go over the ingredients list, make sure I have everything I need, dig out my Kitchen Aid food processor, pick up a tub of plain Greek yogurt, cucumber, a lemon and what ever fresh herbs I might need,  I'll order the meat on Saturday and pick it up on Tuesday, and should be good to go for sometime next week.   

  Like most first time recipes I'm not expecting perfection,  I'm pretty sure if it comes out decent I'll be making it again and it'll get better as I get better at making it, but unlike a lot of first time recipes this one involves a lot of prep work for both the meat and the sauce,  so I want to get the best I can out of my first attempt. 
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