Love it or hate it, professional wrestling's biggest event of the year is on Sunday in New Jersey, and for the first time in WWE history, female athletes will be competing in the main event at Wrestlemania.
You might not be following the feud between WWE Superstars Charlotte Flair, Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch, but you probably have heard of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Andre the Giant or Olympic weightlifter Mark Henry, who calls Austin home and recently lost a gumbo cook-off in Pflugerville to Wild Magnolias' chef Darrell Owens.
The WWE recently teamed up with veteran food writer Allison Robicelli to publish "WWE: The Official Cookbook" (Insight Editions, $29.99), which features dishes inspired by the wrestlers and their sometimes outlandish characters.
Neither Henry nor the late Dusty Rhodes, an Austin native, have any recipes in the book — Austin residents Mike "The Miz" Mizanin and Maryse, who star in their own reality TV show, are also missing — but current star Bayley, who is defending the first ever women's tag team title at this weekend's event, has a dish: Oven-baked chicken nuggets, or "hug-gets," which plays off the Austinite's "hugger" personality. Fellow Austin resident Mark Calaway, aka "The Undertaker," has a chocolate grave cake with candy bars as tombstones, but this Andre the Giant-inspired gyro -- topped with French fries, just like the pop culture icon would have loved — seemed like a dish that even non-wrestling fans would love.
Andre the Gyro
The appetite of the Eighth Wonder of the World was legendary. He was known to knock off french fries — one of his favorite foods — by the platter. Tossed with some herbs from his native French countryside, they make the flavor of this lamb gyro larger than life.
— Allison Robicelli
1 small onion
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pounds lamb, either ground or cut into small pieces
1 (28-ounce) bag frozen shoestring french fries
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
8 ounces feta cheese
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
One 16-ounce bag pita bread
For the tzatziki sauce:
1 seedless cucumber
1 clove garlic
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Combine the onion, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the lamb and continue to pulse until a smooth paste is formed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and shape the lamb mixture into a rectangle about 2 inches high and 6 inches wide. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Bake the cold lamb loaf for 35 minutes or so, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the middle reaches 155 degrees.
Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes, then place in the freezer for 15 minutes to quickly firm up. (Alternatively, you can wrap in plastic and refrigerate the loaf until ready to use; it can last up to 3 days in the refrigerator, or 2 months well-wrapped in the freezer.)
To make the tzatziki sauce, peel the cucumber and grate on a cheese grater. Use your hands to squeeze all the extra water from the cucumber and place cucumber in a medium bowl. Grate the garlic and zest the lemon, then add to the cucumber with the yogurt and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, mix well, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer as the flavor intensifies over time. (The tzatziki will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for 5 days.)
To serve, cook the shoestring fries to package directions, then turn the oven off. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with olive oil, herbes de provence and one-third of the feta cheese. Put in the oven to keep warm, along with the pita bread.
Heat a large nonstick sauté pan or skillet over high heat and brush with a small amount of cooking oil. Slice the cold lamb loaf crosswise into 1/4-inch slices and sear on both sides until brown and crispy, about 2 minutes per side.
Divide the cooked lamb between warm pita bread, then top with fries, tzatziki sauce, sliced tomato and red onion, and the remaining crumbled feta cheese. Serves 4.
— From "WWE: The Official Cookbook" by Allison Robicelli (Insight Editions, $29.99)