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  • Writer's pictureChristina Gili

Ross-Il Forn - Baked Rice, A Maltese Memory

Ross Il-forn-baked rice is one meal my mother remembers eating regularly as a child and something my sisters and I also grew up eating. It’s made withbeef, bacon, marinara sauce and eggs and baked in the oven.

During my mother’s childhood in the 1940’s and 50’s, not everyone in Malta had an oven in their home. Families would prepare food then take it to the village bread maker to cook. They charged a small fee, and you could wait or return to pick up your cooked meal. My mom recalls the delicious scents of Maltese food in the streets.

My grandfather eventually built an oven (yes, he built an oven!) a few years after the war. My Nannu was an intelligent, innovative, hardworking, gentle and loving man. Although we lived thousands of miles apart, we were fortunate to spend part of our summers in Malta every year and I cherish those memories.

My mom was in charge of the shopping when she was young. She would run from town to town obtaining the best items she could. My Nannu, like my father, helped my Nanna prepare the food. Making this dish today brings back all of those memories. As a child, I would smash the Ross Il-forn around my plate so it would cool off quickly and I could devour it!

Ross- Il-Forn

1/2 pound ground beef (or ¼ of each, beef and pork)

1/4 pound bacon, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces

2 cups marinara sauce*

1 1/2 cups white rice

2 cups water

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

3 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon flour

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

  2. In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook the ground meat until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Discard any fat if remaining in pan.

  3. Add marinara sauce and cook for a few minutes until combined.

  4. Place meat and sauce mixture in a 9x11 inch baking dish and then add rice, bacon, water, cheese, salt and pepper.

  5. Beat eggs and drizzle over the rice mixture, using a fork to mix around the baking dish.

  6. Sprinkle the flour on top and bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: add water a little at a time - you can always add, but you can't remove!

* Use your favorite marinara - I use Tony's Marinara Sauce – recipe in a previous post

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Nice to see a true Maltese ross il forn recipee. Most call for parboiling the rice and ommit the beaten eggs and liquid...which give the rice a rich flavour. And without the eggs the rice won't hold together...Ross il forn is meant to be eaten with a knife and fork not with a spoon. And anyway it is not ross il forn when u parboil the rice and than blast it in a very hot oven! I use milk instead of water. And I put 1/2 hardboiled egg per person inside the rice (after the mixing) and 1 tsp of curry in the sauce. Are you sure about the flour? Normally grated cheese is added on top.....



I am inspired! How interesting and wonderful that you put all these memories and information like Nanny building the oven and this great recipe all in one beautiful post. Thank you, Christina!



Nice recipe! This to me is a true Maltese comfort food! Love the photo..nice memory of Nannu and you look adorable Christina. ❤️

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