I know this comes hot on the heels of another middle eastern lamb recipe, but I feel really inspired by all the delicious food we devoured on our recent trip, and I’m just loving bringing these fresh, bold flavours into my own kitchen.
When we ordered Lebanese food in Dubai, it always came with this insanely delicious fluffy white garlic sauce called Toum – lighter in texture than mayonnaise but just as creamy, and just a bit sweet. Upon first taste, my eyes rolled right back in my head, because the flavour brought me instantly back to the “donairs” of my childhood.
The bunny ears are present because the “donairs” I was remembering are unique to the atlantic provinces of Canada, and have only a little in common with authentic middle eastern sandwiches of the same name.
The donairs I grew up with were served in pizza shops, and consisted of thinly sliced seasoned beef served on pita bread with chopped tomatoes and yellow onion, iceberg lettuce, sometimes mozzarella cheese and “donair sauce” – which is apparently most commonly made from sweetened condensed milk and garlic powder. The same joints offer the donair in pizza form – all the fixins piled on a pizza crust with lots of gooey mozzarella and more donair sauce for dipping. While not authentic, these things are delicious in their own right.
Now with this pizza I’ve gone one step further and (deliciously) bastardized the donair pizza of my childhood AND the actual donair.
I didn’t want the sticky sweet dairy-based donair sauce, but I wanted a similar enough flavour to get that nostalgic feeling again. So I spent hours in the kitchen making batch after batch of Toum until my fingers were so saturated with garlic that I could scare away a vampire with jazz hands. Finally, I came up with a sauce that was more respectful to the original than opening a can of Eagle brand, but still had a more of the sweetness I am so fond of in my memory.
It’s a mayo-esque emulsion with egg white, oil, lemon juice, sugar and LOTS of raw garlic.
There are lots of recipes for Toum without raw egg, but I had no luck bringing them into a fluffy emulsion. You can used pasteurized whites if you’re wary.
The pizza is layered with Toum, gooey mozzarella, gently seasoned ground lamb, red onions and tomatoes. It’s baked to bubbly, golden submission then sprinkled with red pepper flakes and drizzled with fruity olive oil. It’s heavenly, if I do say so myself.
And rich – you will not want more than a slice or two, so plan a big green salad on the side.
- 2 lbs pizza dough, recipe here
For garlic donair sauce (Toum)
- 8 whole cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 egg whites
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs ground lamb
- 1 tbsp minced fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- heaping 1/4 tsp cinnamon
For topping, pre-bake:
- 4 cups grated mozzarella
- thinly sliced red onion
- cherry tomatoes
For topping, post-bake:
- fat pinch of red pepper flakes
- fat pinch of minced parsley
- small pinch flaked sea salt (Maldon)
- drizzle of olive oil
- (Other nice additions pre-bake: olives, cooked spinach, goat cheese – post-bake: arugula dressed lightly in olive oil and lemon juice, toasted pine nuts.
- Roll out pizza dough into two rectangles and press into parchment-lined 9×13″ baking pans. Let rise 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450ºF and place oven rack in lowest position.
To make sauce:
- Combine garlic, sugar, lemon juice and salt in blender to finely chop (it’ll get sprayed to the sides, that’s OK). Scrape down, and blend in egg whites. With blender running on medium speed, add oil in a very gradual stream (barely more than dripping) until fully incorporated. Sauce should be emulsified like mayonnaise.
To make lamb:
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb and break up with a spoon. Stir in oregano, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Cook until no longer pink inside, and bits are nicely browned.
To assemble and bake:
- Divide garlic sauce, mozzarella, lamb, onions and tomatoes between two pizzas (in that order). Bake one pizza at a time on bottom oven rack for 10-12 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and golden.
- Sprinkle pizzas with red pepper flakes, parsley, salt and drizzle with olive oil.