Genuine London Doner kebab recipe?

Recipes for all sausages

Genuine London Doner kebab recipe?

Postby breaddrink » Fri May 12, 2006 4:36 am

Ahh, I'm writing this for about the 20th time. Please bear with me.

I've got a feeling this place is the place to find this out though, and I know one of you actually made doner 'legs' as I've read the posts.

I'm English and lived in NE London for the first 24 years of my life.
I ended up marrying an American girl and I've been living in America for the last 7 years. I really miss doner kebabs.
Americans have Gyros and Canadians have Donaires but I've yet to find one that wasn't different enough from the London Doner to make it just somehow unsatisfying and every single recipe I've ever tried online (it's been a lot now) has been either somehow too authentic in it's Greek or Turkish origins to make it like the huge juicy London doners I miss so much and the ones sold in shops here just aren't the high quality of the average London Doner (even the pretty poor grease shop variety).
Generally even if advertised as Lamb they're mainly made from beef and sometimes flavoured with lamb fat a little bit.
In my experience from the ones I've tried, the lowest quality doner I've ever eaten in London has been better than the best Gyro I've had here (tried them now in California, Washington and New York - New Yorks were the best but still not right).

So heres the possibly slightly embarrassing bit...I bought a small electric commercial Doner rotisserie. It's an American brand (Kronomatic) but it's the equivalent to the smallest autodoner brand that can handle a 10 pound leg. It wasn't cheap.

I've tried emailing manufacturers of pre made doner legs in england (As this is the kind I want to replicate) and received absolutely no replies.
The only luck I ever had in finding out the construction of the generic chip shop style doner leg was by saying I was interested in purchasing their product and asking for nutritional information.
From this I discovered some trends.
Most of them have a 30 percent fat content and a good amount of filler (usually rusk) to soften the finishing product and help it remain juicy (I suppose to basically make it absorb and hold fat), MSG, and an emulsifier.

Knowing an average fat content was very useful, and reading on here was a breath of fresh air about using near frozen meat mixtures to construct the cone. That was a new one and made sense.

I've spent a lot of money on meat and I just cannot get that perfect mix of crispness with juiciness while retaining that almost near leathery characteristic (for want of a better word) while still remaining soft enough to be pleasing that a good doner meat should have.
My attempts haven't ever been truly awful, but they're just nowhere near right.
I'm not too unhappy with my spice mixture and onion juice seems to work a great deal towards that doner smell and taste, but the meat texture has been rubbish.
From what I understand the processed meat mix (or very very finely ground) should resemble English pork sausage meat and be kind of bouncy after the fat has truly bound with the meat but I found when cooking (tried from frozen and defrosted, my mix tends to split on the spit and be tough and difficult to carve. It's just not right.
If I could just find some vague amounts from a commercial mix recipe to help me over these stumbling blocks I would frankly be deliriously happy.
I'm basically lacking those amounts of the cheap padding ingredients to make it authentic to the London item.

If any of you can help or know of ANYONE in the business who might know of a commercial recipe I'd be forever grateful.

Many thanks in advance.

Rob.
breaddrink
Registered Member
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 3:26 am

Postby Rik vonTrense » Fri May 12, 2006 5:43 am

Rob....

I feel that the main thing you would be fighting against is the usage of such a doner kebab.

What mainly gives the flavour is the seared outside of the leg but still being frozen just beneath the cooked surface.

I doubt if you are prepared to stand there and cook a 10lbs leg and slice it off as it becomes cooked enough to eat and then maybe somehow vacuum packing each helping of donner for later use.

Doner legs are not used the following day and as soon as they have defrosted they are discarded you must realise that all of the doners sold by the quickie takeawaysd are factory made and no one makes their own doners now.

I live in Cheshunt which is just outside the North London boroughs of Wood Green and Tottenham etc the centre of doner kebab takeaways and my next door neighbour but one is Turkish with four take aways selling anything from Doner to Shish kebabs and I think the only person that actually could make a Doner leg was the Grandfather who's English was not comprehensible and sadly is no longer with us.

But the Sons and the Grandsons couldn't give you a reasonable recipe or actually make a Doner meat leg. They are all factory bought.

I personally have never tried a Doner Kebab but they are frequent visitors to my house and I know the smell of them. I dug up as much details as I could and formulated a large sausage of kebab meat which I froze and I had to slice portions off and grill them under the grill until just completely done one side only to try to emulate the doner machine.

Everyone of the Doner Kebab addicts in this house reckoned I had exactly the right taste and if I had a machine they would have been perfect.

Our memories play us tricks at time especially trying to remember a taste.

Chicken taste nothing like I remember it when I was a kid nor does leg of beef come to that.


.
Rik vonTrense
User avatar
Rik vonTrense
Registered Member
 
Posts: 558
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2006 6:18 pm
Location: GOFFS OAK..SE HERTS

Postby breaddrink » Fri May 12, 2006 9:05 am

"I doubt if you are prepared to stand there and cook a 10lbs leg and slice it off as it becomes cooked enough to eat and then maybe somehow vacuum packing each helping of donner for later use."

Oh yes I am :)
I can also make a leg that isn't as large as the full 10 pounds. I have seen smaller Gyros for sale with this in mind too. The 10 pound size is the maximum it can hold and I know doner meat freezes well after cooking.

"I live in Cheshunt which is just outside the North London boroughs of Wood Green and Tottenham"

Yeah, I know it well.

"But the Sons and the Grandsons couldn't give you a reasonable recipe or actually make a Doner meat leg. They are all factory bought."

Well this is the kind of recipe I am wanting to reproduce. As I say I don't want authentic and this has to be such a widely known recipe if you're in the right circles.
I want the mass produced article.
I knew of a guy who worked in a chip shop in Woodford bridge who used to make his own legs as well. He was quite proud of it and wasn't particularly old. His walls were covered in pictures of him making absolutely ENORMOUS kebab legs in Turkey.
In my opinion his trade fell off when he started putting mint into the mixture.
Anyway...The kebab meat was so so, but the fact that he'd done it was what interested me and spawned another huge round of emails to many chip shops online who advertised that they sold kebabs asking if they might know vaguely what went into this thing that they sold, hoping one of them might make their own.

"Our memories play us tricks at time especially trying to remember a taste."

Well, it hasn't been THAT long and living in the situation that I am has caused me to try to discover many old favorites.
The simple pork sausage for one. I"m very happy with my pitta bread and my chili sauce is spot on.
For kebabs, I've had more luck making strips to use individually by spreading some mixture across cling film, and folding it over and then freezing.
Then you can just kind of unwrap and stick straight into the pan, but I want more authenticity than that, and as I say what worked this way didn't cook on the spit at ALL well. The use of fillers and binders is the key question here.
I just don't see why what I'm trying to do is unrealistic at all is what I'm saying.
Theres an enormous number of commercial kebab manufacturers, and the same of sausage makers.
It seems unlikely that they're all using closely guarded 500 year old secret recipes. EVen those who do can be duplicated...I just need some help getting there.
Even the junk gyros of America has the right consistency and proves it's not some unrealistic holy grail, but just that huge lack of quality of ingredients.

I just desperately need to meet the right person.
I did wonder if perhaps some people from the sausage trade posted in here from time to time and would be in that similar field to know the kind of things that were used.
This is by far the best forum I've seen in regards to these kinds of matters.

I'm about to start trying out xantham gum as a binding agent and also start using home made rusk...Just some amounts would be so helpful.

Thanks for taking the time :)

Rob.
breaddrink
Registered Member
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 3:26 am

Postby Oddley » Fri May 12, 2006 10:58 am

Hi breaddrink welcome to the forum.

The donner kebab leg is like an enormous skinless sausage. So I suggest we treat it as such.

If it were a sausage I would say use a mixture of


70 % lean lamb
30 % lamb fat

of the weight meat/fat use

10% rusk
10% - 15% water
1.5% salt
spices
2-3% Phosphate.

Method:

keep all meat at below 4.5 0c. Put meat and fat through the mincer on a 8mm plate chill. Remince on a 3-4.5mm plate. Add all the other ingredients and knead like a bread dough for 5-10 min's or until the mixture becomes slightly sticky. Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 min's.

To find the reasons for using phosphate see below.


Phosphates
http://lpoli.50webs.com/Tips.htm#Additives

The Ingredient Store

AmesPhos
http://www.theingredientstore.com/gener ... /index.htm

I hope this helps. If you manage to succeed please post the recipe as it will help others in the same boat as you.
Last edited by Oddley on Fri May 12, 2006 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Oddley
Registered Member
 
Posts: 2250
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2004 10:58 pm
Location: Lost Dazed and Confused

Postby breaddrink » Fri May 12, 2006 11:05 am

Oddley wrote:Hi breaddrink welcome to the forum.
I hope this helps. If you manage to succeed please post the recipe as it will help others in the same boat as you.


Hi there, and thanks.
Great to have something new to try.

I do agree that in many ways, texture and otherwise, the shop bought Doner is very similar to sausage meat...Can't wait to try that out.

There will be a slight delay on my next attempt as I'm in between moves, but give me a few weeks and I'll post some results.

Rob.
breaddrink
Registered Member
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 3:26 am

Postby dougal » Fri May 12, 2006 12:03 pm

Rob, I'm no expert, but when you said:
The only luck I ever had in finding out the construction of the generic chip shop style doner leg was by saying I was interested in purchasing their product and asking for nutritional information.
From this I discovered some trends.
Most of them have a 30 percent fat content and a good amount of filler (usually rusk) to soften the finishing product and help it remain juicy (I suppose to basically make it absorb and hold fat), MSG, and an emulsifier.
...
I've spent a lot of money on meat and I just cannot get that perfect mix of crispness with juiciness while retaining that almost near leathery characteristic (for want of a better word) while still remaining soft enough to be pleasing that a good doner meat should have.
It occurred to me that
- commercial manufacturers aren't going to be spending lots of money on meat. Rather the reverse - and they may not be *proud* of what they put in. They may well be being discreet. It wouldn't surprise me at all to discover that there was lots of offal, such as heart - and much worse (lips?), in there. I think the meat would have to be ground very finely indeed, but that there are coarser pieces of fat in there for such internal texture as there is.
- the elusive "juiciness" that you seek is the result of the fatty emulsion, promoted by the emulsifying agents, and quite probably water retained by such things as polyphosphate additives.

As you note, the commercial product is made with emulsifiers.
Normally for making an emulsified sausage at home, you'd mince very finely (repeatedly) while making sure that the meat stays very cold throughout. (In 'Charcuterie' Ruhlman and Polcyn go so far as to recommend mincing into a bowl set in a bowl of icewater.) And after its minced, it needs to be cold mixed (with whatever cold liquid - water?) to form that emulsion.
Commercial meat processors may take a different approach, aided by the variety of chemicals at their disposal - all the way to blood plasma as an emulsifier (I kid you not - see the foodproductdesign link below).

Although it really isn't what you want to hear, I think you'd likely be happier NOT finding out what really went into those commercial Doners that you remember so fondly.
Acquiring a taste for a more authentic Gyros would appear the healthy and rational (if not the emotional) solution.

But if you really want to start scaring yourself, have a look here:
http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/x6556e/X6556E08.htm
http://www.foodproductdesign.com/archiv ... 298cs.html
Its actually to get away from such concepts that there is an interest in home and artisanal sausagemaking...
dougal
Registered Member
 
Posts: 344
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:45 pm
Location: Kent, UK

Postby Heather » Fri May 12, 2006 1:09 pm

On "The F Word" on TV last year, Giles Coren visited a kebab manufacturer, and I'm sure they were using lamb breast, and packing the thin sheets of meat onto the spike and really compressing them as much as possible. Considering that lamb breast is often seen as a throwaway cut of meat, the cost of making the kebab would be negligible.
Heather
Registered Member
 
Posts: 133
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2005 1:08 pm
Location: Bucks, UK

Postby Oddley » Fri May 12, 2006 2:48 pm

I made a small mistake in the recipe instead of:

1-1.5% water

It should be

10-15% water
User avatar
Oddley
Registered Member
 
Posts: 2250
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2004 10:58 pm
Location: Lost Dazed and Confused

Postby Fallow Buck » Fri May 12, 2006 2:55 pm

Bread Drink,

I got your PM and I hope you don't mind me replying on the forum. I just thought it might help the others. Yes as you asked, my family was in the trade and we made donner from 20/30lbs upto 120lbs so the process is as I detailed. There are a couple of things that you need to be sure to do if you are to acheive your goal. Tey are quite simple but make all the difference.

here is the link to my previous post:

http://forum.sausagemaking.org/viewtopic.php?t=1262&highlight=DONNER%20POST

Things to include are:

1) Use the 30% fat you mentioned before. This is correct, but use all lamb. 50-50 sshoulder and leg should give you the ratio you need.

2) Mince the lamb first time on a 4mm plate the mince it again. Then put it in a bag and freeze it. It has to be solid and it has to stay froxen for a few days.

3) Partially defrost the meat and bbreak it into fist size peices or perhaps a bit smaller. put them into a dough mixer, (something like a kenwood chef would do perfectly) and mix with a dough hook on a medium speed.

4) All herbs should be dusted and all onions etc should be liquidised

5) Don't be shy on the mixing. It is the key to the binding of the meat and making the elasticity that will hold it together. It should still be very cold when you finish but fully emulsified.

6) Start small and thin with the patties and press them down as you build them up. Each one should drape slightly over the one you have put it on. and before you make the pattie knead it like you would knead bread.untill iit stops feeling sticky.

7) Everytime you add a pattie blend the edges and press it down then as you are half way trim it a little to shape and continue upwards. when it finishes it should be the same profile as Arnies torso without the bulges!!

8) Whenthe kebab is built then freeze it again. Completely solid and for a couple of days. This might (at home ) mean removing the drawers from the freezer so it can stand upright.

9) Then you can put it on the doner machine to cook. The first cut goes in the bin/dog... It's like the first pancake!!

10) uuse a very sharp ham knife and cut the slices. With practice you will get better but they need to be very thin and this is a real art. It makes all the difference because the fat can drain from the meat after the cut leaving it moist.



A couple of corrections tto the thread.

Don't add rusk. Your kebab will crumble.
Don't add water, your kebab will break up and boil rather than cook in the way you are after.

As Heather said lamb breast thinnly sliced can be used in between every other pattie but what you were looking at is another type of donner using layers of meat rather than mince. I think it falls under the Halep Doner heading but I'm not sure. If you ddo add the breast slices only put small peices that come half way out from the pin or less. Otherwise your kebab will not bond.

You can take a kebab off the spit and refreeze it then cook again from frozen. We avoided doing this unless we put a new kebab on to take a couple of cuts then refreezed it wwhile it was still prettymuch solid.

Your machine may be the reason you are not getting a result. I doubt it will operate at as high a temperature as comercial burners. This will have a difference to the taste albeit small.

I hope this helps. It is a bit long winded but the pointers I gave you are Key to success. You can't cut the corners.

The other thing to be aware of is that every supplier has a different recipie. That is why I posted the process as beeing the key. I found that suppliers using a lot of spices tended to be the ones that had used naff meat. If the kebab had a vague hint of roast lamb about it then the meat is better quality and a nicer kebab.

Good luck and keep us posted. a fer photos would be good and if there are any glaring mistakes in your process then I might be able to point them out to you.

Regards,
FB




[/list]
In God We trust, Everyone Else Pays Cash.
Fallow Buck
Registered Member
 
Posts: 507
Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2005 11:04 am
Location: UK

Postby dougal » Fri May 12, 2006 6:01 pm

Heather wrote:On "The F Word" on TV last year, Giles Coren visited a kebab manufacturer, and I'm sure they were using lamb breast, and packing the thin sheets of meat onto the spike and really compressing them as much as possible. Considering that lamb breast is often seen as a throwaway cut of meat, the cost of making the kebab would be negligible.


The thin strips of meat on the vertical skewer is what I associate with the name 'souvlaki', but its also called 'gyros' and even doner.
Whether or not its 'better' or more authentic hardly enters the discussion, the original question was about reproducing a generic London chip shop doner. And I think that means using meat minced into an anonymous paste and emulsified with binders, fillers and 'juice retainers'.
I'd be surprised if a wholesome product, as Fallow Buck describes, were close to the 'common' catering product. I can see how rusk would make it crumbly, but that's where the processing industry sprinkles in something like Transglutaminase to make sure it doesn't fall apart.
And lets remember that the use of rusk came from plural manufacturers disclosing their ingredients to breaddrink - so somehow some folk are indeed managing to bulk things out ...

Its maybe intersting to compare the Wikipedia entries for
Doner http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%B6ner_kebap and
Gyros http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyros
and the links there may be interesting (there's even a video of a Turkish chef building a 'doner' from strips of meat AND patties of minced forcemeat paste!)
I learned that under still other names its considered an Israeli national dish, and a great favourite throughout the arab world - the Greek/Turkish rivalry is only the start !! :D
I also noted the comment about UK 'doner' being Cypriot in origin... but it doesn't actually say Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot, does it?
dougal
Registered Member
 
Posts: 344
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:45 pm
Location: Kent, UK

Postby breaddrink » Fri May 12, 2006 9:15 pm

dougal wrote:The thin strips of meat on the vertical skewer is what I associate with the name 'souvlaki', but its also called 'gyros' and even doner.
Whether or not its 'better' or more authentic hardly enters the discussion, the original question was about reproducing a generic London chip shop doner. And I think that means using meat minced into an anonymous paste and emulsified with binders, fillers and 'juice retainers'.
I'd be surprised if a wholesome product, as Fallow Buck describes, were close to the 'common' catering product. I can see how rusk would make it crumbly, but that's where the processing industry sprinkles in something like Transglutaminase to make sure it doesn't fall apart.
And lets remember that the use of rusk came from plural manufacturers disclosing their ingredients to breaddrink - so somehow some folk are indeed managing to bulk things out ...


Yes, while the ingredients on the few I managed to get hints on did include rusk and emulsifiers, details on what emulsifiers were used weren't specified.
Personally, I've tried egg yolk as it was listed in some of the more traditional recipes to bind meat layers to ground and was about to try Xantham gum.
The egg in the mixture seemed to cause a drying out of the finished article and xantham gum seems readily available because of the Atkins crowd who swear by it so I thought it was worth a shot.

I just wanted to thank Fallow Buck though...His method descriptions are by far the most detailed I've come across so far and an enormous help.
I did try freezing my kebab legs before cooking as I'd noted that restaurants who had them delivered always received them frozen solid and stuck them straight on the rotisserie but it's SO helpful to have this verified.
I have a chest freezer so the size issues in standing the thing up to freeze aren't an issue.
I also have the largest size kitchen aid mixer and a huge food processor which I have been looking forward to trying (again the house move halted progress) to process the meat as absolutely finely as it can possibly go. Any opinions on this method compared to grinding finely? The meats I've seen used on TV and in photographs have been absolute PASTE so I thought this would be the better way to go about things.
I'd be interested to know why the first cut is no good? Just too dried out or something?

I feel like I've become an expert in the subtle differences in kebab construction across the world in my research online, but none of them (short of a very authentic sounding recipe that used sliced meat only) ever included a detailed description to this extent FB explained.
I've tried recipe after recipe and none of them have come as close as my own efforts which have been at best pretty poor. Some of them have been so astonishingly far from even the American Gyro and still been given rave reviews on their sites that it has been a frustrating time of things to say the least.
This has been/is being the most informative bringing together of info in regards to making a proper kebab leg online so far.

God, the roads I've looked down...I was told/read (can't be sure which now) that Costco sells Gyro legs in some of it's larger stores and this lead me to go on a full scale investigation of all their stores to seek out that all important ingredients listing they'd need to have displayed on the item for sale but I couldn't find a single one that knew what I was talking about.
Random emails to restaurants in both england and Canada (Canada seems more fond of a lamb product) rather than america got me a few dead end replies and one very helpful man who's recipe turned out to be very very wrong indeed and more like meat loaf. (just a difference in expectations/experiences I supose).
Emailing english restaurants didn't get a single reply. Though in fairness most chip/doner shops have no need for web sites.

Locating cheap lamb in America is very difficult and many of my tests were conducted with beef because of this.
Not ideal I know, but having seen the almost 100 percent use of beef in American Gyros I felt it possibly wouldn't change recipes TOO much and helped me not waste enormous amounts of money into the bargain.
Also recipes created with beef and then repeated with lamb yielded a very similar product so I was confident that if I could at least get close with beef it would also work well with lamb.

I too saw that F word on kebabs and noticed the structured building process with ground lamb and also fat/meat layers...
I've had arguments with friends regarding this and some swear it's not layered ever and is only a ground product.
Personally I feel I've eaten both as some had definite striping to the cuts of meat and those that didn't didn't taste particularly different.
I've come to the conclusion that unless it's all layered meat strips, then it's still considered a doner kebab and only the solid layered meat strip version is known as a schwarmer (sp?). Around London anyway.

I also agree that the use of binding agents is only there because of the use of fillers, but it seems like it might also be needed for that specific texture to really come across.
It's hard to believe a solid 100 percent meat product would yield cuts that were quite as soft/juicy on one side, yet crispy on the other. It seems more likely they'd be a lot more solid and 'heavy'. At least all of my 100 percent meat attempts were.
Not necessarily a bad thing but again perhaps not what I'm looking for.

Agreeing on a likely mix of amounts of rusk to the right emulsifiers is the open question I guess. You really think as much as 15 percent water would also be used? Onion juice seemed to work well in the mixes I have tried, and solid blended onion seemed to cause flecks of burning as the rotisserie did it's thing.
Dougals ideas sound like a pretty good place to start to me.

If any of you know of any way to get an insider view on what the larger manufacturers really do put into the legs, that would be beyond fantastic.

Rob.
breaddrink
Registered Member
 
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 3:26 am

Postby Paul Kribs » Fri May 12, 2006 10:38 pm

breaddrink

Have you thought about using phosphate as an aid to emulisification instead of egg? It also aids moisture retention in sausages, so would surely perform the same function in a doner... Just a thought.

Regards, Paul Kribs
User avatar
Paul Kribs
Registered Member
 
Posts: 1588
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2005 11:41 am
Location: South London, England

Postby dougal » Fri May 12, 2006 11:54 pm

breaddrink wrote: I've come to the conclusion that unless it's all layered meat strips, then it's still considered a doner kebab and only the solid layered meat strip version is known as a schwarmer (sp?). Around London anyway.


Shawarma seems to be the Arab (and Israeli) name...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawarma
... and yes, they do seem to use stacked meat slices rather than a mince emulsion.

Do check out the other Wiki links - esp the video of building the layered Doner !!
dougal
Registered Member
 
Posts: 344
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:45 pm
Location: Kent, UK

Postby Patricia Thornton » Sat May 13, 2006 12:45 pm

I think FB has has hit on the answer to why Breaddrink's kebabs don't taste like those he remembers having in London, it's the machine. I should think that no domestic electric machine will produce the high temperatures of the commercial GAS kebab grills.

As to why the kebabs offered by US kebab shops aren't as good as those remembered, Rob's memory of their taste might be affected in a similar way to my own. I loved the kebabs had on my way home from an evening out but often, the next time I passed one or other of the kebab shops, I always swore that I'd take more tonic water with my gin!

Of course, I never did and they always tasted just as good the next time but now I wonder ............
Patty
Patricia Thornton
Registered Member
 
Posts: 175
Joined: Fri May 05, 2006 5:26 pm
Location: Bulgaria

Postby Oddley » Sat May 13, 2006 1:05 pm

To be honest I don't think it matters if it is imaginary or real, Breadrink has set out on a quest, with enough determination he will find a recipe and method that suits him.

having been on quests myself, all I can say is good luck to him. I hope he reaches his goal.
User avatar
Oddley
Registered Member
 
Posts: 2250
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2004 10:58 pm
Location: Lost Dazed and Confused

Next

Return to Sausage Recipes

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests