Cookbook:Rice Cooked in Tomato Meat Sauce (Ross il-Forn)

Cookbook | Ingredients | Recipes

Ross Il-Forn, rice cooked in tomato meat sauce from Malta.

Serves 4/6


  • About 500 ml long simmered tomato meat sauce made with a soffritto of half an onion finely diced softened in a little oil with 50 g diced bacon, to which you add 2 small minced garlic cloves and 2 tbsp tomato paste, then 250 g minced beef or beef and pork, and finally a tin of peeled plum tomatoes and their juices
  • 400 g uncooked long grain rice
  • 800 ml water
  • 120 g grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Peppercorn Pecorino or mature Cheddar + 1 heaped tbsp to finish
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Optional Extras
  • You can mix in large pieces of 1 or 2 chopped hard boiled eggs
  • You may season with ground allspice as well as salt and pepper
  • If you don't use the sweet spice you may add saffron strands (warmed briefly in a dry pan then crumbled and soaked in an espresso size cup of hot water) to colour and flavour the cooking water


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180° C
  2. Butter a Terracotta, Pyrex or aluminium dish - rectangular is traditional but not obligatory.
  3. Rinse the greased dish in water and shake out excess
  4. Whisk one egg lightly in a small bowl with a fork
  5. Place the rice, the meat sauce and the 120 g of grated cheese in the dish along with the beaten egg and the water. Season lightly and mix gently but thoroughly
  6. Bake for 30 minutes then remove from the oven and stir. Note - At this point the rice should be nearly cooked but there should be enough liquid left to complete the cooking. If it seems to be have dried out too much, add more water before stirring
  7. Mix the remaining egg with the remaining cheese and distribute over the top
  8. Return to the oven and bake a further 30 / 40 minutes or until well browned and firm on top. The water should have been fully absorbed and the texture should be firm but moist under the topping.

Best eaten warm but also delicious cold when the "Ross il-Forn" can be cut into squares and wrapped in cooking foil for eating on the beach or to take on a picnic. Very small squares make good party finger food if placed in paper cups or skewered with toothpicks.