Thursday, September 26, 2013

Anna Sultana's Imqarrun il-forn - Baked Macaroni, Maltese Style

If you're not Maltese, I'll let you in on a little secret.
Timpana is near and dear to every Maltese person's heart.
But there's something that is very similar, and that we love just as much.

Imqarrun il-forn… Baked macaroni.

Imqarrun il-forn is basically Timpana without the crust.
When Ma was in a rush, she would skip adding the crust.
And then she would apologize.

She didn't have to apologize for anything.
Imqarrun il-forn is just as delicious as Timpana.
And it has an extra treat.

Usually when the macaroni is baked a few of the top ones get burnt.
Oh, how we fought over the burnt bits of pasta!
The crusty edges are also delicious.
I don't know why, but a crusty, hard piece of semi-fried, tomato meat sauce
drenched pasta is just the best.

Cut yourself a corner piece and see if you don't agree.
And be sure to pick off and enjoy a few burnt bits.
Smile, savour and, if you're the cook, don't apologize!

About the macaroni…
Usually Ma used ziti or penne.
In a pinch, elbow.
You want something that can be filled by the sauce. 
Spaghetti would just lay there.
Not a good thing.

About the tomato paste...
If you like a stronger tomato flavour, use the whole can.

The cheese / bread crumb topping is optional.
If you like it and have time, do it.
If you don't, then don't.

                        Imqarrun il-forn

Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan

In a dutch oven pour
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
Fry until lightly browned.
200 grams (about 1/2 pound) ground beef
200 grams (about 1/2 pound) ground pork
Cook for about 3 minutes.
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
250 ml (about 1 Cup) chicken or beef stock or wine
Simmer for 15 minutes.
Season with
salt and pepper to taste.

While the sauce is simmering, in a large pot place
4 quarts water
salt to taste
Bring to a boil.
400 grams (about 1 pound) macaroni
Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente - about 10 minutes.
Drain the pasta well and add it to the sauce in the dutch oven.

Preheat oven to 350º 

4 large eggs
Mix them into the sauced macaroni.
Add to the macaroni
100 grams (about 1/4 Cup) Parmesan cheese
Stir everything together.
Pour into the prepared pan.

Combine in a small bowl
100 grams (about 1/4 Cup) Parmesan cheese
100 grams (about 1/4 Cup) dry bread crumbs
Sprinkle over the top of the pasta.
Place the pan, uncovered, in the preheated oven.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until you see a few burnt spots.
Then you know it's perfect.


  1. Thank you for this recipe-since coming back from Malta I have wanted to make this.

  2. You're welcome, Esme!
    Which do you prefer: Timpana or Imqarrun il-forn?

  3. Thank you for your recipe for Imqarrun il forn. My husband's family is Maltese. Could you tell me how you would prounounce Imqarrun il forn. His family talks about a Maltese Macaroni dish but they do not seem to know how to spell the name. They pronounce it something like this- Al-Gia Il forn. Is that the same way you pronounce the name of your dish? Thank you for your assistance.

    1. Agine il forn is the same thing, it means baked pasta, instead of baked macaroni, same same lol

    2. That would be għaġin (Maltese word for pasta). Indeed same same

  4. Hi, Pat. We pronounced it 'Im-carroon ill forn', which basically means 'macaroni baked'.
    I've never heard of 'Al-Gia Il forn'. Sorry I couldn't help.

  5. Yes, she's trying to say Ghagin il-forn. :)

  6. Hi guys does anyone know the culture history of the dish? Where it came from what they used to originally use? They wouldnt have had mince meat back then. I know when my dad was in Malta the 2nd world affected everything nd they used Bully beef/corned beef but what about before that?


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