Friday, July 18, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Baked Macaroni and Sausage, Maltese Style


Timpana is number one among Maltese pasta dishes.
But Imqarrun il-forn is a close second.
And, true to a Maltese love of variety, there’s a third.
And probably a fourth, a fifth, a sixth…

But, back to number three.
Baked Macaroni and Sausage is similar to Imqarrun il-forn in that it does not have a crust, like Timpana.

But then it also has the extra treat that Imqarrun il-forn has that makes Imqarrun so special.
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!


Hints:

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.

If you want to use hot Italian sausage, no problem.


                        Baked Macaroni and Sausage

Grease a 9 x 13 x 2 inch pan

Remove the meat from the casings of
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
Place the meat in a dutch oven.
Fry the meat until it crumbles.

Add 
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
Fry 5 minutes.
Stir in
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped and undrained
2 Cups water
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Season with
salt and pepper to taste
Remove from heat.

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

Shred coarsely
1 pound mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400º 

Place in the prepared pan a layer of 1/3 of the pasta.
Sprinkle over the pasta 1/2 of the shredded mozzarella cheese.
Repeat.
Top with a final layer of pasta.
Pour the tomato meat sauce over the pasta.
Sprinkle over the sauce
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
          
Place the pan, uncovered, in the preheated oven.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until bubbly and brown.
If you see a few burnt spots then you know it's perfect.

This was usually served as a first course.
With a vegetable and some crusty bread, it would make a great lunch.

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