Jacksonville, Florida is home to tons of great deli's run by Arab-American families, so middle-eastern food and sandwiches are tied together in my brain. One place in particular, Whiteway Delicatessen, manages to put their house-made tabouli on pretty much everything, including over half their sandwiches; this recipe is a nod to that tradition. Doner meat method adapted from Serious Eats Greek/American Lamb Gyro recipe. —wenderzz
medium grind red bulgur
small picking cucumber or 1/2 english cucumber, seeded
green onions, white and light green parts only
flat leaf parsley, (to yield 1.5 to 2 cups of chopped leaves)
fresh mint (to yield 1/3 cup chopped leaves)
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
extra salt and pepper to taste
ground beef (80/20 fat ratio, and grass fed if you can get it), very cold
Crusty bread or rolls, I used ciabatta rolls from the grocery store, you could also make your own bread, or use thick pita like pide
Sheep's milk feta cheese in brine, crumbled
In This Recipe
Bring a cup or two of water and a pinch of salt to boil on stove; pour over bulgur and let sit 10 minutes. While bulgur soaks, finely chop tomatoes and cucumber. Cut green onion stalks in half lengthwise, then finely slice. Drain bulgur and place in a large bowl; add vegetables and lemon juice to bulgur and mix to combine; let sit together for 10 minutes.
Rinse your herbs in cold water and thoroughly dry. Pull leaves off of mint stems and finely slice. Handfuls at a time, line up where the parsley stems split into leaves and then chop between the split and the leaves. Reserve the thick stems for another use (I like to freeze and use for stock) and finely slice the leaves; add to bowl. (Note: don’t use the food processor to chop your herbs. Even though the desire may be strong since you’re using it later in the recipe, resist. Using the food processor for your herbs will get you pesto, not tabouli).
Add the olive oil, spices and salt; stir. Feel free to tweak the seasoning to your liking. Cover and refrigerate (Can be made a day ahead, which helps the flavors blend and bulgur absorb some of the juices).
Put ground beef, onion, garlic, spices, salt and pepper in food processor. Work quickly so that your meat remains as cold as possible (you could even pop the meat and veggies in the freezer for a few minutes to boost the cold and help combat the heat your food processor will generate). Puree until the mix is good and smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides. In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, form into a 1 inch-high meatloaf, doing your best to square off the sides for uniform slicing later. Cover and refrigerate for a couple hours or as long as overnight.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cook until internal temperature reads 160, about an hour. Let cool in pan set on rack. (Can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated for a week).
Reduce oven heat to 200. Cut cooked loaf into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices. Heat a skillet over medium high heat with a teaspoon of olive oil; once hot add in doner loaf slices 3 at a time and cook until crisp on the outside, about 2 minutes per side. Move cooked slices to oven to keep warm.
Wipe out skillet with a paper towel, add in a touch more olive oil. Toast bread in skillet, a couple minutes per side. Split bread and put several slices of doner meat, a sprinkling of feta cheese, and a scoop of tabouli. If you’re using a denser bread or something like a baguette that’s a little thicker, use a spoon to scoop out some of the bread on the inside. Repeat with remaining bread and fillings.
Notes: 1) Feel free to improvise with other fillings. You could mix full-fat greek yogurt and some dill and spread that on one side of your toasted bread, or layer your cooked beef with some shredded cabbage for crunch. Make a spread of various fillings and have a doner sandwich party! 2) You're going to have leftover tabouli, which is never a bad thing. You can make yourself another Whiteway classic the next morning: tabouli topped scrambled eggs. With a strong cup of black coffee. That's the stuff.