Turkish Döner Kebap (Gyro)

Döner kebap is filets of meat stacked on a vertical spit and roasted at a vertical grill.

Döner means “turning:” the vertical spit is rotated, or turned, in front of the heat source (charcoal, gas or electric). When the meat directly opposite the heat source is properly roasted, the spit is rotated so that the cooked meat may be sliced off with a huge knife, and an uncooked portion of meat exposed to the fire.

Because the meat is vertical, it is self-basting, which helps to account for its rich flavor.

(In Greece döner is translated as gyro, but may also be called doneri.)

The thin slices of meat are served lots of different ways: plain on the plate, stuffed into Turkish bread (döner sandviç), rolled into flat bread (dürüm), or laid atop diced flat bread and topped with sauces.

Traditional döner is made from milk-fed lamb but in the 1980s a heart-healthier alternative—tavuk (chicken) döner—became popular as well. Today it’s not unusual to see twin döners, lamb and chicken, sizzling side by side.

The supremo of döners is İskender Kebap (“Alexander’s Roast Lamb”), named for a chef in the city of Bursa who created the dish: lamb raised on the thyme-covered slopes of Mount Uludağ (which rises south of Bursa) is roasted à la döner, spread atop diced flat pide bread, then topped with savory tomato sauce and browned butter and served with a dollop of yogurt on the side. More…

I consider this dish addictive!


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