The wonderful Canadian East Coast donair is a meaty wrap that must be tried.
As far as street foods go, I don't think it gets much better than the donair. A specialty of Canadian east coast towns (it originated in Halifax, Nova Scotia), this delicious wrap has a lot in common with the döner, gyro, and shawarma, but truly has it's own flavour. The thinly sliced seasoned meat is shaved off a rotating spit and served wrapped in a pita with a few basic toppings and the signature donair sauce, which is a sweet yet garlicy concoction that can't be done without.
Making a donair at home doesn't require a spit, though if you have a convection oven with a rotisserie attachment, preparing the meat can be a quicker process. The difficulty will come in adjusting the recipe below so that the meat mixture is dense enough to maintain its shape on the rotisserie bar. Otherwise, preparing the meat is much like making a meatloaf.
Preparing this recipe is a 2-day process. It's important to give both the meat and the sauce enough time for the flavours to mingle. The preparation beyond this is quite straightforward. The toppings are simple (diced tomato and onion; sometimes shredded mozzarella is also used) as the star of the show is that delicious seasoned beef with oodles of sauce.
This recipe makes 6 small donairs. Though my version isn't perfect (take a trip to Halifax to experience the real thing) it comes pretty close.
(Makes 6 servings)
1 lb ground beef
1/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can (300ml) low-fat sweetened condensed milk
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced and sautéed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
6 small pita bread
1 Roma tomato, diced
1/4 small sweet onion, diced
Begin preparations at least one day before you wish to serve the donairs.
Preheat the oven to 325°F / 165°C and prepare a roasting dish (rack removed) lined with aluminium foil. Set aside.
In a large, sealable plastic freezer bag add the meat, breadcrumbs, water, and spices listed in the ingredients under 'spiced meat.' Seal the bag with as little air inside as possible then begin combining the ingredients by kneading the meat. Knead the meat for at least 10 minutes to ensure the ingredients are thoroughly combined, and to further break down the ground beef.
Form the meat mixture into a log and place it in the roasting pan. Bake for 1 hour, then lower the temperature of the oven to 275°F / 135°C and continue to cook for an additional 1, 1/2 to 2 hours. The meat is ready when deeply browned, but not burnt, and somewhat dried. Remove from the oven and set the pan aside to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, wrap in the aluminium foil from the pan and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 8 to 10 hours.
While the meat is baking, prepare the donair sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the minced garlic (to ensure the garlic is minced finely, use a garlic press). Lightly sauté the garlic until it fully releases its aroma and begins to soften (about 2 to 3 minutes). Set the pan aside and let cool.
In a medium mixing bowl, add the condensed milk, sautéed garlic, vinegar, garlic powder, and pinch of salt. Using an immersion blender, combine the ingredients well. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 8 to 10 hours.
When it comes time to assemble the donairs, slice the cold meat using a very sharp knife. It is important to slice the meat as thinly as possible. On a sauté pan over medium heat, add the shaved meat and heat thoroughly.
While the meat is heating, wrap the pita breads individually in damp paper towels and microwave for about 30 seconds. This should help soften the bread and help it wrap better.
Equally distribute the reheated meat across 4 pitas, add the diced tomato and onion, and drizzle a generous amount of sauce over each. Wrap and enjoy!
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
total calories = 369 | total fat = 12.42g | saturated fat = 5.32g | cholesterol = 62.34mg | sodium = 482.4mg | net carbohydrates = 39.93g | dietary fibre = 1.45g | sugars = 1.76g | protein = 22.01g