Ah the Donair! About ten years ago I discovered this magnificent creation. The perfectly spiced meat, the fresh veggies, and that sweet sauce… At one point I was eating donairs up to 3 times a day! This led to a good friendship with the owner of the shop I frequented. This just goes to show that good food and good friends have a self sustaining synergy.
If you have good food you’ll soon have good friends.
Hopefully this series of ‘Bake like a Boss’ articles will lead to some great times with old and new friends for you delightful readers. Now on to ‘How To Make The World’s Best Donairs’!
Like a seesaw there are three items needed for success. On one end we have the sauce, this wakens up the meal, providing a surprising flavour burst that puts a brimming smile on your guest’s eager faces.
On the other end we have the homemade flour pitas, wrapping the contents with an authentic, wholesome, blanket of deliciousness, bringing balance to the flavours and textures it holds within.
But the whole meal pivots around the meat. If you don’t get this right the whole thing falls apart. The flavour and texture have to be perfect. This is how i do it:
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- 1 lb Ground Beef ( I usually do this in 3-5 lb batches)
- 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp Flour
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 1 tsp Oregano
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Accent (optional)
- Frank‘s Red Hot Sauce
- Sliced Cheese
- Go Crazy! Feta, Olives, Cucumber, whatever toppings you think. Let us know what you do!
- Aluminum Foil for wrapping
Donair Meat Instructions
In a bowl mix all spices (everything but the meat) well. To get the right texture the meat needs to be broken down. There are 2 techniques I’ve used that work, depending on what appliances you have. The first is to use a meat grinder. I use this one, attached to this Kitchenaid mixer.* Once ground add the spices.
I’ve found the best way is to slice the hamburger into 1″ strips while it’s still partially frozen and feed it through. Be sure to use the fine grind plate.
The second method I’ve used is to unthaw the meat, add the spices, then in small batches run it through a food processor (this is the one I have) for about 45 seconds.
Once the meat is ground and the spices are mixed in put the meat back in the kitchenaid with the paddle mixer on and beat it on medium speed for about a minute or two. You want the fat to look like thin strings as opposed to little balls. The meat will start to look more like processed meat at this point. I like to let the meat rest for a while after this.
Beat Your Meat
The secret to a perfect donair is to BEAT YOUR MEAT! Not once, not twice but at least 30 times. To do this I get a large metal bowl and set it on a chair at little over knee height. Then I pick up the ball of spiced, ground meat, raise it above my head and a with a mighty yell of “BLOGGING IS LIFE!”** I furiously throw it into the bowl.
I repeat this 30-40 times. You’ll notice the meat forming tighter together into a ball. Let the meat rest again. Take this time to admire the pump your biceps got on in your favorite mirror.
Now place the meat in a corningware bowl, place some tin foil over the top and put a lid on. Next place it in an Instant Pot following the proper directions. We’ve found 4 hours on Low Pressure and then letting the pressure naturally release works best.
We’ve shortened this when time was of the essence, like during the great toilet paper shortage of 2020. You can also cook in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour and a half, with acceptable results.
Once it’s done cooking remove the meat to cool. Drain the drippings and save them for later. If you have the time the meat slices best once it’s cooled down. I use a meat slicer on the finest setting, which is about a 1/16th thick. Congratulations, you have now become a legend in your neighborhood!
People are rather impressed when they watch you cook your own fresh pitas in front of them. They do this cool thing where they expand like a balloon when they hit the hot oil. Let’s see a loaf of bread do that! -Hint you’ll just ruin a perfectly good loaf of bread. Seemed like a cool idea at the time.
First prep your yeast. Sprinkle the yeast on the warm water and let sit for five minutes. Ponder what exactly those little yeast guys are thinking after being in the freezer. Add the Oil and Salt, mix it up, and then start adding the flour.
When the dough pulls away cleanly from the bowl, you have the right amount of flour. Let the Kitchenaid knead the dough for 7 minutes, or for extra points do it by hand. Be sure to coat your body in flour for dramatic effect.
Coat the ball of dough lightly in olive oil and place it in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Place it somewhere warm for an hour and let it double in size.
Cut the dough into balls the size of your ego (about 3″). Take one and cover the rest with a towel. Roll out as thin as you can without getting holes. A little flour sprinkled about helps. This will give you a ten inch pita. Or do like I did and build a press out of a 2 ton bottle jack, cookie sheet, and a pot I received as an anniversary gift.
Get a large frying pan and put in enough Olive oil to cover the pan in a thin layer. Set at medium high temperature and let the oil get very hot, but not smoking, before placing the pita carefully in.
Let it cook for about 20-30 seconds until light brown then flip it over till light brown. Make gasping noises as it expands. Add oil as needed to ensure there is a thin layer of hot oil before adding the next pita.
Sweet Sauce Instructions
I spent hours(years!) trying to make this sauce by curdling evaporated milk with vinegar, but was unable to get a method that worked every time and kept in the fridge for any length of time. Then we discovered this rather simple method that works every time and keeps well.
Mix the garlic powder and sweetened condensed milk together. Add the vinegar and mix. Done deal.
Slice up the vegetables that you like. Heat a frying pan up over medium high heat with some oil in it. Put an appropriate (read: too much) amount of sliced meat in the pan. Add a tablespoon or two of the drippings you saved and place a fresh pita over top. The heat and steam from the meat and drippings will warm and soften the pita.
Cook till some of the meat browns and flip it over. You can add more cayenne powder at this point if you like. Once it is nice and hot transfer it onto a plate with a 12″ section of aluminum foil on it.
Add cheese, a couple tablespoons of sauce, hot sauce, and vegetables and quickly roll it up. Serve with fries, onion rings or salad. Peel the foil off as you eat it. Keep a small cup of sauce beside if you like to add as you go. Enjoy!
This recipe came from years of experimentation. Do your own and let me know what changes or substitutions you make! Next time try making the World’s Best Chicken Wings!
*I highly recommend getting a good mixer, it will pay for itself quickly if you tend to go out for dinner a lot. These mixers are also easily repairable yourself so you will get years of use. Always make purchases with the thought you will keep the product for life.
**You may substitute this with your own phrase. I like”Cowabunga!”, “Turtle Power!”, “THE DOW JONES HAS DROPPED 1000 POINTS!”, and that sound Arnold makes when he’s angry. Let me know what you do!