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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 350ยบ 

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.

  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?