Ross fil Forn – my way


When we all want something warming for a very cold day with the threat of snow with gritted roads I make a Maltese baked rice dish – Ross fil Forn. Simplified version to be sure, but it really is a classic and everyone has their favourite way of doing this

I usually have some beef ragu in the freezer for quick dinners and nights when I am too tired to cook totally from scratch. This is the recipe I use.

Ingredients:not precise really – adjust to your taste

  • 500g best quality steak mince
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Teaspoon celery seed
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • Teaspoon dried oregano – more of fresh
  • Teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 heaped tablespoons Ajvar; a rough purée mainly made from roasted red peppers, adds an extra depth flavour
  • 3 normal cans chopped Italian tomatoes
  • Glug of red wine
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients apart from the Ajvar, tomatoes, red wine and salt and pepper in a large saucepan to brown. Add the Ajvar, wine and tomatoes to the pan (I use the wine to swish out the last of the tomato from the tins) and cook on a very low heat for about 5-7 hours, until the beef is really tender. Taste, season. The sauce is now ready to use!

The quick way is to mix with basmati rice in which chopped leeks have been steamed. Stir in two beaten eggs and season with a little sea salt and pepper. Add a good grating of Parmesan to the bowl and mix the lot together. Turn into a buttered ovenproof dish and grate a little more black pepper and Parmesan on top.

Bake for about 45 minutes until cooked through and a little crusty on top.

Serve with green salad.

Lush.

You can add cooked chicken livers to the rice, or chopped hard-boiled eggs, or some smoky aubergine purée… All work well


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