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Homemade Beef Donair

A donair is a type of sandwich made with slices of spiced meat (typically beef) cooked on a spit and served within a pita bread with tomatoes, onions, and a sweet sauce. However, even if you don’t have a rotating spit, you can still make a pretty tasty donair from home, using a steak, some marinade, and your oven. It is a Canadian version of a Greek gyro. According to WiseGeek.com, “The first donair sandwiches were created in the Halifax area of Canada, and they can now be found throughout the eastern part of the country and in larger western Canadian cities.”

Homemade Beef Donair

Homemade Beef Donair
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Homemade Beef Donair

This recipe requires time for marinating (a few hours to overnight) and about 45 minutes to cook the meat. It makes enough meat for about 4-6 sandwiches.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword beef, lunch, sandwich
Servings 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 pounds steak (inexpensive cuts are fine)
  • 2 cucumbers, diced
  • 2 tomatos, diced
  • 1 head ice berg lettuce shredded
  • Tzatziki
  • hummus
  • pita bread (get the thick bread, not the thin hollow pita shells)
  • feta, shredded

Instructions

  • Place vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg, garlic, salt and pepper into a bowl or container with a lid and mix well.
  • Slice the steak into very thin slices.
  • Add the steak to the marinade and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Place the marinade and steak into an oven-safe dish with a lid and bake for about 45 minutes.
  • Remove the steak from the marinade and prepare to serve.
  • Heat the pita bread in the oven for about 8 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and spread tzatziki and hummus on the bread.
  • One one side, top with the desired amount of meat, cucumber, tomato, olives, lettuce, and feta.
  • Fold in half and enjoy.

Carma's Cookery Creative Cooking Tips

You can easily get creative with this donair and make this sandwich your own.

  • Don’t like cucumbers, leave them out!
  • Like chicken better than beef, use that.
  • Use ground meat instead of sliced meat.
  • Use lamb instead of beef or chicken.
  • Experiment with flavored hummus.
  • Play around with the spices. Reduce some, increase others. Add in cumin or garlic powder.
  • Add in some plain yogurt.
  • Experiment with other types of lettuce — or chose not to shred the lettuce.

If you’re feeling really creative, use another cuisine’s flavor pallet to make this sandwich.

  • A Mexican donair might use a tortilla instead of a pita. Use taco or fajita seasoning to spice the meat. And use cheddar instead of feta.
  • An Italian might use basil, oregano and margaram to marinate the meat. Add tomato sauce to the marinade. Use mozzarella instead of feta.
  • Use Tandori chicken for an Indian donair.
  • An Asian-inspired version would use Asian spices in the marinade. And perhaps instead of lettuce, use sprouts.

Since this dish is a Canadian riff on a Greek dish, why not expand the riff to better suit your tastes? Kitchen creativity is all about making inspired substitutions of ingredients, garnishes, and sometimes even cooking techniques. This recipe gives you a lot of leeway for Kitchen Creativity!

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About the author

Carma Spence has been experimenting in the kitchen since she was four years old and loves trying out new recipe ideas. She is the author of Bonkers for Bundt Cakes and Your Perfect Pie, as well as author and contributor to several more non-food-related books. With Carma's Cookery, she is taking her passion for empowering people and blending it with her passion for cooking, gift-giving and entertaining.