The Donair and Why It Is Amazing!

Nova Scotia, Canada

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Picture this? It’s Friday night and closing time in the downtown Halifax bar scene. Thousands of hungry patrons are emptying out on the streets in search of the traditional late night snack before heading home to sleep it off. Crowds congregate on the streets with many at the intersection of Blowers and Grafton Streets better known as Pizza Corner. All seeking slices of pizza, subs, street dogs and of course the mighty donair. 

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The King of the street and best eaten late at night. A sweet savory messy thing wrapped in tin foil that every East coaster who grew up here drools over. Inside your tin foil wrapped treat you’ll find heavily spiced ground beef that was shaped into a huge round log and roasted on a vertical spit, then shaved off in thin slices, seared on a flat top to include some crusty tasty bits. The meat is placed on a thin fat soaked heated pita and topped with tomatoes, raw onions and lots of sauce. This is the traditional way but you can put on anything you wish with cheese being a new favorite for many.

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The sauce is a sweet blend of sweetened condensed milk, vinegar, garlic powder and is very addictive. It’s wrapped up and eaten in hand. Kind of as eventually it will be dripping down your cheeks, hands and arms and that’s alright it’s a given. It’s heaven in your hand at 2 am in the morning and urban legend says a great hangover cure! The donair has evolved into many extensions these days. Donair pizza, donair poutine, donair sausage, donair egg rolls, donair garlic fingers, you can buy the meat and sauce in grocery stores or frozen donair kits from the freezer. Just be bold and try making  it at home from scratch!

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I’ve tested this recipe many times and it’s a great party stopper. So take the challenge and make some as it’s still hard to get good donair anywhere outside the Maritimes. We’ll dub you an honorary East Coaster when you jump on the bandwagon.

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Donair Meat
  • 3 lbs lean ground beef
  • ¾ cup Italian style bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt

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  • Preheat the oven to 300°F
  • Using a stand mixer combine all ingredients and mix well for 10 minutes on medium speed with the paddle attachment. Kneed by hand for so good fun!
  • Once everything is very well combined, form the meat into a tightly packed oval loaf.
  • Place the loaf on a broiler pan and cook in the oven for 2½ hours or BBQ indirectly till cooked.
  • Once the meat has cooked allow to cool in the fridge overnight.
  • The next morning after the donair meat has chilled cut the loaf into thin slices.
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Donair Sauce
  • 10 oz (300 ml) sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Stir together all ingredients until thick. You can use this right away but it tastes the best if it sits overnight in the fridge.

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Put It All Together

  • Fresh Pita bread
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Diced onion
  • Donair sauce

Take a portion of donair meat and heat the slices up in a frying pan with a tiny bit of oil on low heat. You just want to heat the slices up and not brown them too much. While the meat is heating up in the frying pan take a pita and quickly wet both side under running water. Now take the pita and put it on top of the meat while it’s cooking. Once the pita has been over the meat for about 1 minute flip it over and let the pita steam for another 1 minute on the other side.

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  • Take the pita and place it on top of a square of aluminum foil.
  • Top the pita with donair meat and remaining toppings as desired.
  • Top with donair sauce.
  • Fold up the bottom of the pita and then roll it up.

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  • Wrap the aluminum foil around the donair
  • Place into the oven for about 10 minutes to warm
  • Peel the aluminum foil away as you eat the donair
  • Make sure you have lots of napkins in hand
  • Donairs are famously messy and delicious

Enjoy!

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Jo-Ann says:

    Thank you .
    I have a hint for eating the donairs. I do everything you but then put the bottom in a bread bag that way the juices aren’t all over you.

    Liked by 1 person

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