Halifax Donair Flatbread Pizza is a twist on a traditional recipe of the Atlantic coast. It combines delicious donair meat and a unique sweet & savoury sauce.
Hello, everyone. Today I am super pumped as we’ll have an extended weekend (Happy birthday, Canada!) I am about to share a real Canadian recipe. That’s a challenging thing because it’s super hard to define “Canadian cuisine” itself most of the times. That’s not our case today. It’s not just the Canadian recipe; it’s one of the symbols of the Maritimes.
The Halifax donair has been known since the 1970s when one Greek immigrant tried to introduce the gyros to the city. However, Nova Scotians seemed not to be very passionate about lamb and tzatziki. He adapted the recipe to Maritimes tastes substituting spicy beef for lamb and sweet & savoury sauce for tzatziki. In 1973 he opened King of Donair which become the first Donair place in Canada.
There’s a thing about a donair pizza: you either love it or hate it. There’s probably another stage in between, and I might be the one who’s here now.
What’s the Halifax donair? There are two parts. The first part is protein. The donair meat is made of beef and various spices and herbs such as onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, paprika, and oregano. Then the meat is shaped like a large kebab and cooked on a rotating spit, then shaved off, and cooked again on a grill. This recipe is adjusted for an oven, and it is also recommended to brown the shaved meat in a pan. Delicious! You can put the donair meat on your pizza or wrap it up in a pita. It goes perfectly with diced tomatoes and onions.
The second part of the recipe is the sauce. When I was exploring the recipe (Before giving this pizza a try), I was surprised to find out the sauce is made of condensed milk, sugar, garlic powder, and vinegar. While I am not opposed to sweet and savoury combos (You know me, right?), my main concern was vinegar. I couldn’t even imagine what kind of taste would it bring when combined with milk and sugar. When we ordered the donair pizza first time ever, we asked not to drizzle our pizza too generously and put the sauce aside. I think I must have submerged the tip of my finger into the sauce like it was a hazardous substance. The first lick – didn’t get. The second lick – hmmm. Another try – that’s not bad at all!
The sauce is sweet (Not horribly sweet, though). However, you don’t really feel the vinegar. I guess its purpose is to thicken the sauce up due to some chemical reaction. Also, you can use either a can of sweetened condensed milk or the combination of evaporated milk and granulated sugar. When I made this sauce, I wanted to slightly reduce the amount of vinegar. That’s the reason (I believe) it didn’t have the right consistency. If you pay attention to the pictures with the pizza, you’ll notice the sauce is foamy and too thin. The next day, when we were finishing the donair meat leftovers, I fixed the sauce by stirring in it more vinegar and then refrigerating it a bit. The result was just right, and the taste was pleasant, too. The bottom line: don’t neglect the vinegar part.
I swear we did like this simplified Halifax Donair Flatbread Pizza more than anything we had tried in the pizzerias. Obviously, with homemade pizza crust, it would be even more delicious, but flatbread will work too. And you know what’s the best part? You can totally avoid the sauce if you didn’t like it.
Have you ever heard of the Halifax Donair Pizza? Would you like to give it a try?
Happy Canada Day to all who celebrate.
- 3 lb. (1,5 kg) lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp. olive oil + more for greasing
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder (not salt)
- 1 tbsp. garlic onion (not salt)
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- a good pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 flatbread like Naan
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup good quality pizza sauce (I used with herbs and garlic)
- 1 small red onion, diced (1/3 cup diced)
- 1-2 tomatoes, diced (1 cup diced)
- 2/3 cup grated pizza mozzarella
- 1 can (370 ml) evaporated milk
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- It is recommended to use a stand-up electric mixer with a dough hook attachment to get the meat properly mixed; however, you can make it by hand in a large bowl (Which will take 7 to 10 minutes longer).
- In a stand mixer, combine the beef, bread crumbs, water, oil, spices and herbs. On a low-speed process until incorporated then increase speed to kneat donair mixture until elastic and firm, about 10 minutes (At least 15 minutes if by hand).
- Layer two large (60-70 cm lengths) pieces of foil on surface. Lightly grease it with the extra olive oil (1 tbsp).
- Roughly divide the beef mixture into two parts and shape it into a long log (about 30 +- cm long). Tightly roll foil at each end to seal.
- Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the preheated to 160 degrees C (330 degrees F) for about 90 minutes. It is recommended to place an empty baking sheet underneath the donair meat in case it leeks.
- Remove from the oven and let cool then place in the refrigerator overnight.
- To make the sauce, in a bowl stir together the condensed milk with garlic powder and sugar and whisk 1-2 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
- Whisk in the vinegar, until thickened.
- Transfer to a container, cover, and let refrigerate for at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.
- To make the flatbread, preheat oven to about 200 degrees C (400 degrees F). Arrange the flatbread on a baking sheet.
- Remove the foil from the donair and with a sharp knife slice long ribbons or just slices.
- Spread the pizza sauce over the flatbread. Generously arrange the meat along with the tomatoes and onions. Sprinkle with the mozzarella.
- Bake for about 6-8 minutes or until the edges are crispy and browned and the cheese is melted.
- Serve with the donair sauce; you can immediately drizzle the flatbread with it or serve it aside.
- If you are serving the meat with a pita (without further baking), shave or slice the meat off and then cook in a large skillet (without oil) 2-3 minutes, until browned and crispy edges then serve with pita, veggies, and the sauce.