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Gyros at home
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  • Gyros at home

    Post #1 - July 21st, 2009, 10:25 am
    Post #1 - July 21st, 2009, 10:25 am Post #1 - July 21st, 2009, 10:25 am
    Pardon the ignorant question, but is there a different in the seasonings used in shawarma meat versus gyro meat, or is the difference just in what the meat is served with (hummus versus tzatziki sauce)?
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #2 - July 21st, 2009, 11:49 am
    Post #2 - July 21st, 2009, 11:49 am Post #2 - July 21st, 2009, 11:49 am
    Big difference. As far as I know, most commercial gyros are spiced mainly with oregano and garlic. They are also typically very coarsly ground, if not completely pasty.

    Shawerma is spiced with the typical Arabic (or levantine) spices - allspice, perhaps a tiny bit of cinnamon and/or nutmeg, sumac, onion. Probably no garlic. Shawerma also takes on a tang that is absent in gyros, probably from vinegar or lemon juice marinade, or some combination of both.

    Commercial tatziki (which is what you get in most Gyros establishments) is basically oil and water with milk powder and garlic bound with a heavy duty emulsifier. Real tatziki is yogurt, mint, cucumbers and garlic.

    Hummus should never be served on a shawerma sandwich. IMHO. However, it is perfectly reasonable to serve shawerma ON hummus. Don't ask me why. It just is this way. Sometimes shawerma is served with a cucumber/yogurt/mint sauce that resembles tatziki. Most Arabic restaurants have it.

    Hope that was helpful.

    M
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #3 - July 21st, 2009, 11:58 am
    Post #3 - July 21st, 2009, 11:58 am Post #3 - July 21st, 2009, 11:58 am
    Thank you, Habibi. That is very helpful.

    A few weeks ago I took a stab at homemade gyros using Alton Brown's recipe. The seasonings were onion, garlic, dried marjoram, dried rosemary, salt and pepper. I don't know how close to authentic that is, but we liked the flavor. Sounds like that's very different from the seasoning mix for shawarma, though.

    Thanks for indulging the tangent toward Shopping and Cooking. We return you now to your regularly scheduled program, Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen, already in progress.
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #4 - July 29th, 2009, 5:40 pm
    Post #4 - July 29th, 2009, 5:40 pm Post #4 - July 29th, 2009, 5:40 pm
    I'm ready for my next experiment in making gyros at home, and I'm looking for some advice. My last try followed the Alton Brown recipe for seasoning, but went with lamb patties rather than a big lamb loaf. I just came across a Cooks Illustrated article that takes the lamb patty approach.

    I can grind the lamb this time, but I recall the patties being a little tough for my taste last time. So I'm thinking of the following options:

    (1) Grind lamb and mix in seasonings but keep mixing at a bare minimum and form patties very loosely. Possibly shape them long rather than round to better fit in pita bread.
    (2) Cut lamb into cubes (kinda rib tip size), marinate, and cook in grill pan.
    (3) Leave lamb in large pieces, marinate, cook on grill, and cut/slice after cooking.

    Which of these do you think would be most successful? I don't have a whole boneless leg of lamb that I can put on the rotisserie; I have several cross-cut pieces of lamb leg with bone in the middle.
    ------------
    p.s., I moved this post out of the thread where I originally put it because that apostrophe in the title was driving me crazy, and since I didn't get any replies, I suspect it drove a few other people crazy too.
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #5 - July 30th, 2009, 11:40 am
    Post #5 - July 30th, 2009, 11:40 am Post #5 - July 30th, 2009, 11:40 am
    This post reminded of a recipe I have been meaning to try forever...grilled gyros. I think I even posted about it somewhere on here when I read about it. It is based off Alton Browns recipe but I think he takes it a step up. Here is the recipe I found a few years back. Im trying it before summer ends...not that it ever begun.
  • Post #6 - July 30th, 2009, 12:07 pm
    Post #6 - July 30th, 2009, 12:07 pm Post #6 - July 30th, 2009, 12:07 pm
    Thanks for the recipe, Da Beef. Still haven't quite decided how I'm going to cook the lamb but gyros are definitely on for tonight!
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #7 - July 30th, 2009, 1:57 pm
    Post #7 - July 30th, 2009, 1:57 pm Post #7 - July 30th, 2009, 1:57 pm
    I've had good luck making Gyros both as kebabs and as patties. I'm not sure if you're trying to replicate a commercial Gyros or just make a good tasting one, but I've found a few things that help me get a distinctive "Gyrosy" taste that I like:

    LOADS of real garlic and onion. If you're going to make patties the best thing to do is grind the meat (about 2 lb.s leg meat) yourself. Cube the meat and marinade overnight in a mix of 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 3/4 cup EVOO, 2 tbls chopped rosemary, 1.5 tbls chopped oregano, 1 t red pepper flakes, S+P to taste, 1 med. onion and 2 heads of garlic, all blended together in a blender. You could also just blend that with pre-ground lamb, but I haven't found much ground lamb that I really like.

    I prefer doing kebabs and thin slicing them when they're done. I do everything the same as above but just skewer the cubes instead of grinding them. I leave plenty of the paste on them and also baste them a few times with the marinade as they cook. To be fair, I'm not sure if the kebabs are really Souvlaki and not Gyros, but the two are related.

    Cubed and skewered:
    Image

    Patties:
    Image
    It is VERY important to be smart when you're doing something stupid

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  • Post #8 - July 30th, 2009, 4:48 pm
    Post #8 - July 30th, 2009, 4:48 pm Post #8 - July 30th, 2009, 4:48 pm
    Shawerma is spiced with the typical Arabic (or levantine) spices - allspice, perhaps a tiny bit of cinnamon and/or nutmeg, sumac, onion. Probably no garlic. Shawerma also takes on a tang that is absent in gyros, probably from vinegar or lemon juice marinade, or some combination of both.


    You forgot the all-important cumin/coriander/turmeric notes.
  • Post #9 - July 30th, 2009, 7:33 pm
    Post #9 - July 30th, 2009, 7:33 pm Post #9 - July 30th, 2009, 7:33 pm
    I use Alton Brown's recipe, but grind the meat *really* fine, press it hard into a loaf, and grill/smoke it slowly over coals/charcoal.

    Tzatziki: drain the yoghurt until it is quite thick; add a few tablespoons of sour creme if you dare; salt the grated cucumber and squeeze out; add a few tablespoons of *good* EVOO; I use both fresh dill and fresh mint; lots of garlic, natch! :)

    When I take the meat off the grill, I put it into a pan and weight it down pretty seriously over night in the fridge. In the morning, it's pretty firm and slices nicely.

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #10 - July 31st, 2009, 1:47 am
    Post #10 - July 31st, 2009, 1:47 am Post #10 - July 31st, 2009, 1:47 am
    Real Gyros is produced on a vertical spit and then rotated as all sides are exposed to heat to give a crisp texture to each piece as it is cut off. If your Gyros is not cut off a spit as you watch, its probably some mishmash product that should be in the trash can.
    Why a vertical spit? Well if you have ever tried to compress ground meat in a horizontal spit you will know why.
    If I remember correctly in my research to purchase a commercial spit and source of Gyros, one can get beef, beef and lamb and lamb depending on what you like and cost. I came to the conclusion that it would be too much of an expense to purchase a vertical spit and we would never consume a whole spit except at a large party.
    Using your favorite Gyros recipe which should include coriander and some good olive oil, I make a meat loaf in the oven. i then chill and slice and then griddle each piece which gives a nice crust. I grind my own beef and lamb so I can tailer the consistancy. Make your own Pita and sauces and that is about the best you can do at home.
    The 'Food of Greece' is my go to Greek cookbook. It can be frustrating to find recipes as they are not alwats listed by common names but they are all in the book.-Dick
  • Post #11 - July 31st, 2009, 7:52 am
    Post #11 - July 31st, 2009, 7:52 am Post #11 - July 31st, 2009, 7:52 am
    Just in case you missed it, the New York Times recently had a nice article on the history of the gyro. You might find it surprising! :)

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #12 - July 31st, 2009, 2:25 pm
    Post #12 - July 31st, 2009, 2:25 pm Post #12 - July 31st, 2009, 2:25 pm
    For my second trial, I went with plan 3, i.e., keep lamb pieces large, marinate, grill, and slice after grilling. Several of the lamb leg cuts were as big as porterhouse steaks with just one tiny round bone in the middle, so I couldn't bear to grind it up first.

    By the way, I got the lamb at H-Mart for $2.99/lb; not the ideal place to buy lamb but a great price.

    I consulted various recipes and ended up slathering a mix of all of the following on the lamb cuts: olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, rosemary, marjoram, and oregano.

    I had previously bought 10-in-diameter pitas at Jerry's produce - can't remember the exact name, but it's around where I was when I was looking for H-mart on Milwaukee instead of Waukegan.

    The tzatziki sauce was from Costco.

    Neither of us being up for totally raw and cold onions and tomatoes, I sliced some of each, put them in an aluminum pan, topped them with some oil and salt and pepper, and warmed them in the oven.

    We warmed the bread, piled on the grilled lamb slices, added tzatzki sauce, and put the warm onions and tomatoes and seasoned oil on top.

    We loved the results. I don't remember anything after that, as we both fell asleep on the couch.
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #13 - July 31st, 2009, 2:59 pm
    Post #13 - July 31st, 2009, 2:59 pm Post #13 - July 31st, 2009, 2:59 pm
    Katie wrote:We loved the results. I don't remember anything after that, as we both fell asleep on the couch.


    Ya cain't argue with success! :lol:

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #14 - July 31st, 2009, 4:06 pm
    Post #14 - July 31st, 2009, 4:06 pm Post #14 - July 31st, 2009, 4:06 pm
    A couple of saucing notes:
    Places such as Pita Inn serve a tahina sauce and a hariss/harissa.
    The former is just tahina paste, water, lemon and a pinch of salt (although I'll sometimes garlic it up). Start with a little tahina paste, add water until it's a little too thin, then add lemon and it usually binds up on me again.

    The latter is a mysterious chile paste. I've never found a commercial one that comes close, but it's somewhere between milder sambal oelek and a salsa cruda at Pita Inn. I've got a tasty moroccan harissa in my fridge that's more like a spicy tomato paste with caraway. Enjoyable, but not the same.

    I often make kefta kabob from ground lamb and/or beef, and ras al hanout is a nice addition, but if you're already putting in a selection from cumin, coriander, ginger, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, clove, allspice you're pretty close.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #15 - August 1st, 2009, 8:46 pm
    Post #15 - August 1st, 2009, 8:46 pm Post #15 - August 1st, 2009, 8:46 pm
    This was a very inspirational thread.

    For Easter, I usually do a boneless leg of (butterflied) lamb, stuffed with halved garlic cloves and marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh oregano, grilled over lump. I slice and serve this after a rest on grilled flatbread, with the juice of some grilled lemon, tatziki, and a salad of tomato, kalamata, herbs, oil, feta and cucumber. Works out great. My in-laws, who had never had lamb before, :| would incite a riot if I didn't now do this annually.

    After reading this thread, I bought some ground lamb and thought I'd make the "loaf" out a conglomeration of what I read here.

    I pulsed the lamb (1.5 lbs) with a half pound of chuck, with 1.5 onions, a head of garlic, minced, a bunch of fresh oregano from the garden, a couple sprigs of rosemary, a half cup of olive oil, salt and pepper. I formed it into a loaf and baked it for an hour. Now it's cooling under a plate and a foiled brick in the fridge.

    I box grated 2 cucumbers, peeled halved and seeded, with well-drained yogurt, 4 minced garlic cloves, juice of a lemon, S&P, and a handful of fresh oregano and mint.

    My question is, how to reheat the "loaf" tomorrow? I have a griddle, but it's only about 8 X 8. I'd like to get a little smoke in there, so maybe I slice and grill quickly over some lump and a hunk of apple wood?

    The "loaf" kind of spread out in the oven; it kind of looks like a deflated football right now. I wish it were more "log-like", but it's not. And the brick isn't going to help it become more cylindrical.

    Thanks. And thanks Katie.

    -DBO
  • Post #16 - August 2nd, 2009, 1:31 pm
    Post #16 - August 2nd, 2009, 1:31 pm Post #16 - August 2nd, 2009, 1:31 pm
    I use a loaf pan to help keep the shape but due to the amount of water that comes out, the loaf pulls away from the pan but if your remove and chill, then its easy to cut into slices. I always use a griddle as Gyros is not smoked and I would suggest cutting whatever size pieces you can and griddling and stuffing in your Pita bread. Once its in the bread who cares how it looks!
    As I said before the appeal of real Gyros is that as the spit revolves each piece is crusted. You can spit a leg of lamb or a whole lamb for that matter but its really a hot proposition to cut pieces off and the wait as the spit revolves until the outside is again crusty.
    There is a reason that there is a specific machine for making Gyros using a vertical spit. -Dick
  • Post #17 - August 2nd, 2009, 2:09 pm
    Post #17 - August 2nd, 2009, 2:09 pm Post #17 - August 2nd, 2009, 2:09 pm
    Hmmmm. With a bit of looking around, I found a fairly thrifty 9= < $200) vertical spit device from Cuisinart. And then there's the Greek Cooking Machine Co's range of gyro broilers from $450 to $1200. Hmmmm, makes one think...

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #18 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:28 pm
    Post #18 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:28 pm Post #18 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:28 pm
    taking my shot @ homemade gyros today, using only lamb for my gyros loaf

    Other items in the loaf(onion, garlic, kosher salt, black pepper, oregano, lemon zest, marjoram.

    The onion was done in the food processor, and pulsed to a mush, then drained in paper towel. Meat, onion, and spice mixture was also done in the food processor til it became a paste. Formed into a loaf, rolled in plastic wrap and tossed in the fridge for the next 4-5 hours. I will cook the gyros laof on the WSM doing a high heat cook. Fixin to serve the gyros on pita with raw onion, and tomato. as well as some tzatziki.

    Also some tzatziki sauce in the works, plain yougurt being drained through some cheese cloth, it will have some minced cucmber,lemon juice, garlic, black pepper, and kosher salt to complete.

    Lastly a greek salad of tomatoes, green pepper, cucumber, feta, and green pepper in a vinegrette.

    Ill try to post some pics when I am done.
    Last edited by jimswside on May 22nd, 2010, 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    R.I.P. jimswside - 5/2/16



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  • Post #19 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:33 pm
    Post #19 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:33 pm Post #19 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:33 pm
    Sounds good. I like to add both dill and mint to my tzatziki.

    Let us know how it tastes!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #20 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:34 pm
    Post #20 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:34 pm Post #20 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:34 pm
    Geo wrote:Sounds good. I like to add both dill and mint to my tzatziki.

    Let us know how it tastes!

    Geo


    good adders, mint was too expensive today @ the store $3 for a miniscuel ammount.
    R.I.P. jimswside - 5/2/16



    @GrubSeeker
  • Post #21 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:53 pm
    Post #21 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:53 pm Post #21 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:53 pm
    I'm still working on developing a favorite way to do this at home. Don't know if I answered this comment before, but no, I'm not trying to replicate the "look and feel" of restaurant gyros, just trying to get great lamb flavor with complementary side flavors.

    My latest attempt involved slices off a butterflied lamb shoulder (marinated with garlic, olive oil, all the classic seasonings) that I should have grilled a bit longer - we like medium-rare, this was too rare. For my next try, I'm thinking cubes of lamb grilled on kabob skewers, but I am a little worried about those cubes of lamb tumbling out of the pita bread when lifted to bite. Maybe the better approach would be to skewer strips of lamb instead (satay or teriyaki style) ...?

    I also bought a container of tzatziki sauce at Costco last time to speed dinner along, and we found it much too heavy. What remains of it I'll be cutting at least 50-50 with plain yoghurt for the next gyros-at-home experiment.
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #22 - May 22nd, 2010, 2:54 pm
    Post #22 - May 22nd, 2010, 2:54 pm Post #22 - May 22nd, 2010, 2:54 pm
    Katie,

    I've had skewered cubes in Athens: sometimes one cuts the pita in half and opens up the half to put the cubes in the pocket. That works pretty well.

    You're right about the heaviness of the sauce—most commercial sauces are just too thick and gloppy.

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #23 - May 22nd, 2010, 4:42 pm
    Post #23 - May 22nd, 2010, 4:42 pm Post #23 - May 22nd, 2010, 4:42 pm
    Geo wrote:I've had skewered cubes in Athens: sometimes one cuts the pita in half and opens up the half to put the cubes in the pocket. That works pretty well.

    Ah! The simple yet elusive solution! Why didn't I think of that? Thanks, Geo.

    You're right about the heaviness of the sauce—most commercial sauces are just too thick and gloppy.

    When I first started trying to figure out how to make gyros at home, I was thrilled to find tzatziki sauce (about which I knew nothing) available in stores. And yes, now I know I can make it from scratch. But to enjoy using up what I already bought, I definitely have to cut it a lot.

    Here's another question for my fellow home-gyro-experimenters: do you like your tomatoes and onions raw (as they would be at a restaurant)? As I said before, I'm less interested in mimicking the restaurant product than in producing the tastiest dinner I can. I'm inclined to salt and pepper and grill the tomatoes and onions a bit. Any thoughts?
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #24 - May 22nd, 2010, 5:33 pm
    Post #24 - May 22nd, 2010, 5:33 pm Post #24 - May 22nd, 2010, 5:33 pm
    Katie wrote:Here's another question for my fellow home-gyro-experimenters: do you like your tomatoes and onions raw (as they would be at a restaurant)? As I said before, I'm less interested in mimicking the restaurant product than in producing the tastiest dinner I can. I'm inclined to salt and pepper and grill the tomatoes and onions a bit. Any thoughts?


    Since authenticity isn't the objective, I'd actually go a step further and make a "grilled" salsa-- large dice of tomatoes, cukes (I actually kind of like them with a bit of char on them strangely enough) and onion w/some greek oregano on the grill and then tossed with some good red vinegar, a bit of olive oil and some crumbled feta--what a sandwich!! Who needs tzatziki...I usually think it just covers up the lamb flavor anyway while the greek vinaigrette accentuates it. Wish I was home at my grill right now...
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #25 - May 22nd, 2010, 5:44 pm
    Post #25 - May 22nd, 2010, 5:44 pm Post #25 - May 22nd, 2010, 5:44 pm
    I know this will probably sound kind of dumb, but I rather like that onion-y grilled meat taste in the mouth a few hours later, and that comes only from raw onions! But I frequently use Bermuda onions.

    boudreaulicious, that sounds like an excellent idea.

    Jimswside, at those prices, I don't blame you for skipping the mint. One of the reasons I have two or three different varieties growing in my gardens in both KC and Montréal! And it comes in handy for Vietnamese-Thai food as well.

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #26 - May 23rd, 2010, 9:06 am
    Post #26 - May 23rd, 2010, 9:06 am Post #26 - May 23rd, 2010, 9:06 am
    nice version last night,

    Cooked it on the WSM @ 350 degrees (no water in the water pan & only lump charcoal).

    took the loaf to 165, and let it rest before slicing. Lots of flavor, lamb, oregano, garlic, etc. Kind of surprised with the smoke ring.

    loaf:

    Image


    on the WSM about 1/2 way through:

    Image

    WSM doing its thing:

    Image

    sliced:

    Image

    my plate w/ a greek salad I did:

    Image

    the leftover gyros will be sliced and used for a gyros and eggs supper later this week for supper.

    thanks for looking
    R.I.P. jimswside - 5/2/16



    @GrubSeeker
  • Post #27 - May 23rd, 2010, 9:31 am
    Post #27 - May 23rd, 2010, 9:31 am Post #27 - May 23rd, 2010, 9:31 am
    Oh man, does that ever look great! Nicely done. Hmmm, might even make a nice Sunday breakfast!! :)

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #28 - May 23rd, 2010, 9:32 am
    Post #28 - May 23rd, 2010, 9:32 am Post #28 - May 23rd, 2010, 9:32 am
    Geo wrote:Oh man, does that ever look great! Nicely done. Hmmm, might even make a nice Sunday breakfast!! :)

    Geo



    thanks Geo.

    lol...I want to save those for later in the week for nice Tuesday dinner treat.
    R.I.P. jimswside - 5/2/16



    @GrubSeeker
  • Post #29 - May 27th, 2010, 8:22 am
    Post #29 - May 27th, 2010, 8:22 am Post #29 - May 27th, 2010, 8:22 am
    had the leftover gyros last night with (3) overeasy eggs, and hashbrowns. One of my favorite breakfast meals.

    The gyros meat, which was good on Saturday, was great last night. The loaf had tightened up after a few days in the fridge, and the flavors had intesified. Really easy to slice, and just great.

    Next time I make this I am going to let it rest a few days in the fridge first for sure.
    R.I.P. jimswside - 5/2/16



    @GrubSeeker
  • Post #30 - June 29th, 2011, 11:42 pm
    Post #30 - June 29th, 2011, 11:42 pm Post #30 - June 29th, 2011, 11:42 pm
    Hi,

    Influenced by this thread, I have twice prepared gyros to Alton's Browns recipe. A whole recipe was divided between two mini loaf pans, then baked for just over an hour. Rather than eating it right away, I drained the fat and kept it over night.

    Meanwhile, I finished draining the yogurt to prepare the tzatziki sauce.

    I also needed to buy bread. I was originally aiming to buy pita bread until I saw bread specific for gyros: 'Pre-oiled gyro bread, hand stretched for fluffiness.' It is a product by Kontos Foods of Paterson, NJ http://www.flatbread.com purchased at Garden Fresh in Northbrook. This gyro bread had the heft and texture of bread I associate with gyros, which a pita does not. While I could buy pita bread for much less, I bought a package of ten 6-inch breads for approximately $2.75.

    To prepare for dinner, I preheated two frying pans: one for the gyros and the other to heat the bread. I sliced the gyros meat as thinly as possible, then reheated them in a single layer in the frying pan without any added oil. In the other pan, I reheated and lightly browned the bread for about one minute on each side.

    To serve, I arranged meat on half the gyro bread and passed it on to be dressed with tzatsiki and onions to taste.

    I inquired with everyone what they thought, "It tastes just like a gyro." Exactly what I wanted.

    I have a few breads left, I will serve them pan toasted with Greek Village Salad.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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