What's with me and meatballs? Lately, they've been gracing my meal plans in various forms, as well as baggies of different flavored ones in my freezer. The glorious meatball, versatile in it's many applications and ease of preparation. The thing about these ones is that they taste just like a donair, complete with accompanying sweet sauce.
Have you ever had a donair? Not like a Lebanese donair full of tzaziki or tahini sauce, but an Atlantic Canadian donair. The meat can be a combination of beef and lamb (usually all beef) that is spiced with garlic, onion, and oregano and formed into this huge log that gets roasted on a spit. When you order it from a donair place, they shave off slices of the donair meat and throw it on the flat top so you get juicy flavorful slices of meat with crispy edges. They pile the meat into pita pockets and top with your choice of lettuce, tomatoes and onion slices and finish that all off with this sweet garlic sauce. The sauce is what makes these donairs unique. From what I gather from the internet, this originates in the maritimes, and has migrated over here to Alberta and Toronto. I first tried a donair on the trendy Whyte Avenue in Edmonton, Alberta.
As I seem to do quite frequently, I set out to make my own donair meat and sweet sauce. I was amazed that I could accomplish such an exact replica! Just what I was looking for, so close to the restaurants. But after making it only two times in two years and realizing that any time I scheduled it into my meal plans it continually got bumped, week after week, I figured it had something to do with the process. Let me see: mix the meat, knead the meat, throw the meat at least twenty times, form the meat, bake the meat, let it rest and cool, place the meat in the fridge and the NEXT night you can enjoy it for dinner. Only after you've made the sauce and prepped the veggies. Ummmm....no thanks. Not the kind of work I want to go through for a weeknight dinner. Then the bright idea hit me...the glorious meatball! Take all the same flavors and spices, roll them into little balls that can be baked in 20 minutes and serve it up with all the same toppings.
Yep, I got me a winner.
....and ok, ok, I'll lay off the meatballs soon I promise.
Recipe inspired by Dash's Donairs
2 lbs lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 tsp garlic powder)
1 tsp onion powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp oregano or marjoram
1 tsp basil
Donair Sweet Sauce:
1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk (use full fat, not reduced. The recipe won't work with reduced fat)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp white vinegar, as needed
Onions, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs. Form into 1 1/2 inch size balls (you should get about 36-40 meatballs). Place on a baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown.
To make the sauce, whisk together the evaporated milk, sugar and garlic powder in a medium mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in the vinegar one teaspoon at a time until the sauce thickens.
To serve, place donair meatballs inside a pita pocket and fill with lettuce, tomatoes and onions (or your desired toppings) and spoon over some sweet sauce.
We love these pitas! It satisfies the craving for donairs at home without paying for take out. And after making the full fledged donair meat a couple times, I can definitely tell you that these meatballs are so easy and quick and still deliver the same flavor profile.
- Donair Meatballs made into pitas
- Donair Meatball Pitas + Homemade Oven-Fries