Do the Donair

I’ve noticed, of late, that tasty donair treats have been gaining a bit of popularity. Growing up, donair pizza in particular was something that only seemed to exist on the East-most side of Canada, but it’s beginning to spread as Easterners move West and sharing recipes online becomes a million-times-a-day occurrence. So following that suit, I thought I would share my donair pizza recipe, which I have pretty much perfected at this point. You know it.

Tell me that doesn't look DELICIOUS AS HELL.
Tell me that doesn’t look DELICIOUS AS HELL.

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The first, and most important, ingredient is obviously the donair meat. I can remember when I was little no one seemed to know what the hell donair meat was, so I was incredibly surprised the first time I looked up a recipe and discovered that it’s actually just ground beef with a bunch of spices mixed in. There are a couple of tricks to making great donair meat though, so read carefully:

Donair Meat Ingredients:

1 pound of ground beef1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp flour
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Donair Meat Instructions and Tips:

Tip #1: If you love saltiness and (preferable) don’t have any heart issues, you can replace the garlic and onion powder with garlic and onion salt. Doing so makes me feel a little bad about myself every time I do it, but it is also terribly delicious, so…yeah, there’s that.

Tip #2: If you’re a fan of spicy food, you can add a little more cayenne pepper. Donair meat is naturally a little spicy (I mean, come on, look at all those spices you just put in there), but a little extra cayenne gives it a nice kick.

Now, once you’ve got all your spices measured out and added to your ground beef, you’re going to want to mix it all up, much like you would when making meat balls. Get your fingers right in there and really mush everything together. Once everything is evenly combined, that’s where Tip #3 comes in: if you have a food processor, use it now. One of the big keys to good donair meat is making sure you get as much air out of the meat as possible before forming it. Pulsing it in a food processor for a minute or two helps achieve this with minimum effort. You want your meat to look like a sticky paste.

If you don’t have a food processor, the best method for getting the air out of the meat is – not even joking here – chucking it at the counter/table. You’re going to want to clear yourself some space so that you’re not splashing bits of meat on everything, and then you want to literally gather the meat up in a ball and throw it – hard – at your preparation surface. Gather the meat back up, form it back into a ball, and throw it down again. Do this twenty or thirty times. It seems ridiculous, but you are both tenderizing the meat and forcing the air bubbles the surface. Trust me, this is important.

Once you’ve either processed or bashed the living hell out of everything, you want to form it into a loaf shape. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but the more uniform you make it the easier it will be to slice later.

Place your loaf on a pan and stick in the oven for 75 minutes at 350 degrees.

Once it’s done cooking you’re going to want to stick it in the fridge for a while; donair meat is much easier to slice up when it’s cold. Once it’s nice and cool you can slice it up. Most recipes will tell you to slice it very thin, but I don’t worry about it so much. You don’t want it to bee too thick for use on pizza, but I usually slice mine to about the same thickness as I would pepperoni on a regular pizza.

P.S. When slicing up your donair meat you might notice a slight reddish tint. This is a result of the spices, not under-cooking. I’ve made this recipe dozens of times and it’s never been undercooked once.

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Next up on the list is the dough, because pizza is nothing without good dough. I’ve tried several recipes myself, but the best one I’ve found yet is the one that was in the recipe book that came with my Cuisinart food processor. This recipe is, of course, meant to be made in said food processor, but I’m sure you could mix it by hand if you don’t have one.

Pizza Dough Ingredients:

1 pkg pizza dough yeast (or 2-1/4 tsp of quick-rise yeast)1 tsp sugar
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp canola oil or extra-virgin olive oil

Pizza Dough Instructions:

Dissolve the yeast and the sugar in the lukewarm water. Don’t stir, just kinda poke the yeast down into the water; stirring will make the yeast stick to the spoon and get all goopy. Set this mixture aside for about five minutes to allow the yeast to activate.

While you’re waiting, combine the flour and salt. Nothing too complicated here.

If you have a food processor, get it moving and slowly pour the yeast mixture in. Process until most of the dough forms into a ball, and then continue processing for 30 seconds to a minute to allow for kneading time. If you don’t have a food processor, I suggest dousing your hands in flour before trying to hand-mix this dough, as it can be fairly sticky.

When you’ve got a nicely kneaded dough, roll it into a ball and pour on the oil. Rub the oil all over the surface of the dough ball, place in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a tea-towel (does dough rise better in the dark? I honestly don’ t know…this is just something that everyone seems to do, so I’ve always done it myself). Leave in a warm place to rise for about 40 minutes.

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Finally, for a really good donair pizza you have to have a really good donair sauce. For ages I used this recipe that involves evaporated milk, and it was tasty but also very easy to screw up. There seemed to be no particular amount of vinegar that worked well every time, and if you stirred the mixture too much it could go really liquidy, which I’ll just tell you outright is not good. So eventually my husband came across this different recipe that is quite excellent and stays nice and thick no matter what you do to it. It’s also extremely simple.

Donair Sauce Ingredients:

1 can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tsp garlic powder

Donair Sauce Instructions:

Mix. That’s all there is too it. If it doesn’t seem like the vinegar is properly mixing into the milk, just keep mixing. Stir it nice and fast. It’ll mix together eventually and it’ll be nice and thick and delicious. If you haven’t had donair sauce before, I know it looks weird and smells funny, and you probably don’t want to taste it just by itself because, come on, it’s just sweet milk and vinegar, but trust me…when paired with donair meat it is absolute joy.

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Finally, it’s time to construct your pizza! And yes, there are tips to this part as well. First, when you go for your dough you’re going to want to punch it – yes, literally punch the dough right in the center before removing it from the bowl. It helps get the air bubbles out. Then spread it out on your pizza pan. I assume that most of you will be able to figure this one out on your own. If you’ve made my dough recipe it should spread out pretty easily. One thing I hate about pizza dough is when it’s all elastic and refuses to properly spread to the edges of the pan, and that’s why I love this particular recipe. It spreads beautifully.

Once your dough is prepared the first thing you want to do is NOT spread the sauce. DON’T DO IT. I know, everything you know about pizza tells you that the sauce goes on the dough first, but I’m telling you right now that your first layer should be the mozzarella cheese. This helps the pizza to hold together better. You know how the toppings on homemade pizza always seem to want to slide right off? This fixes that problem. Put a layer of cheese on the dough first – not all of the cheese…maybe about half as much as you’d normally enjoy on your pizza, and save the other half for later. On top of the cheese you want to drizzle some of your donair sauce. Don’t worry about trying to spread it easily or anything like that. Just kinda blob it around until you’ve got about a third of the sauce physically on the pizza. Don’t worry, as the pizza cooks the sauce will melt and spread around.

Once you’ve got your cheese and sauce, toss down some of that sliced donair meat. You don’t want to overdo it, but spread out a nice even layer of meat, and once you’ve got the pizza covered, toss on the rest of your cheese.

The only other donair pizza ingredients are optional, although most people will tell you that they’re necessary. Those are simply onion and tomato. Chopped, sliced, minced…however you like them. Cut up some onion and tomato and toss that on top of your pizza.

With your pizza constructed, pop it in the oven at 425 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, or until the pizza crust is nice and golden brown.

Congratulations! You’ve just made yourself the best damn donair pizza that ever there was! Slice up and serve with the remainder of the donair sauce, either by dipping or spreading the sauce on the slice before eating it.

No need to thank me. All in a days work. ❤

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