Nanna Rita’s imqarrun fil-forn

Everyone has their own recipe for imqarrun fil-forn. Michael Diacono shares a family recipe that puts utmost importance on a good quality ragu along with some family secrets.  

The Diacono name has become synonymous with good food. Gourmet Today TV resident chef and owner of restaurants Giuseppi’s and Rubino, Michael Diacono is a household name in good food.

His nephews have also made a life for themselves in the catering industry; Edward Diacono is head chef at Rubino, Tommy and Nicky Diacono are the brains behind New York Best and Fat Louie’s and Chris Diacono runs the front of house at Giuseppi’s. But where did this passion for good food come from? From Nanna Rita of course.

Mother of 11 children, she has plenty of experience in the kitchen feeding all of them and later their partners, children and grandchildren. Like all grandmothers she has plenty of recipes that are sought after not just by her grandchildren but anyone who has ever been lucky enough to be invited over. This is her recipe for her imqarrun fil-forn.  

Instead of mixing the sauce in with the pasta, she layers it like you would do with lasagne and tops the pasta with an egg and milk mixture for those extra crunchy bits on the top.   

Nanna Rita’s imqarrun fil-forn


  • ½ aubergine
  • 2 carrots
  • 200g beef liver, diced
  • 250g minced beef
  • 250g minced pork
  • 4 tbsp kunserva
  • 500ml tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper


  • 500g penne rigatoni
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 500ml milk
  • 200g Parmesan


1.Start by making the ragu. Dice the carrots and the aubergine.

2.Fry the aubergine in a saucepan in vegetable oil making sure there is enough oil in the pan. The aubergine will absorb the oil and then start to burn.

3.When the aubergine is golden add the carrot and allow to cook for a few more mins.

4.Add the liver and allow to cook until the liver browns.

5.Add the minced beef and pork and season with salt and pepper.

6.Allow to cook until the meat is browned on all sides. Approx 5 mins.

7.Add the kunserva and mix well and cook for a few mins to allow the kunserva to be absorbed by the meat.

8.Add the tomato sauce, adding a little water if the sauce is too dry.

9.Cover, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 1 ½ hours, making sure that the sauce isn't too dry.

10.Boil the pasta in salted water leaving a little raw. If the packet says to cook for 12 mins, cook for 8 as the pasta will continue to cook in the oven.

11.Grease a dish with butter and dust with polenta.

12.I'm a separate bowl beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper.

13.Add the milk and mix well.

14.When the pasta is ready add a layer to the bottom of the dish, a layer of the ragu and a layer of cheese.

15.Repeat the same layers until all the pasta and sauce has been used up.

16.Pour over the egg and milk mixture over the top.

17.Add a little more pepper and bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 30 mins.

This recipe first appeared on Gourmet Today TV, aired on TVM on 29 April, 2017. 

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