One day I’ll go into the history of my own family, but until then, this is a little glimpse into my dad’s side of the family.
My dad, though born here in Sydney, is 100% Maltese. I grew up going to my Nanoo and Nana’s house every Thursday night for dinner and games. My dad’s entire family can build you a house, brick lay your driveway, fix your car or pretty much fix anything else that may be broken- they are incredible, and they are 100% Maltese. Our surname is Grech (in Malta this is their version of the last name Smith!)
My Nanoo passed away a few years ago, but my Nana is still with us- thankfully. I remember over the years my Nana slaving away in the kitchen- she would make a rotation of meals- Marinated Pork Neck, Macaroni, Ravioli, Handmade Canoli’s and every so often Rabbit Stew.
You never really think your grandparents won’t be with you forever, especially as a child.. and then one day they are gone. They leave behind memories, and material things but you’ll never get to have that conversation with them again.. or hear them laugh.. or hear their accents (years of living in Australia hasn’t change my Nana’s accent one bit). Often Greg will call my dads name with the same inflections that my Nana says his name, rolling the f’s like she came from Malta yesterday! Her voice is a dear memory I have, saved away for those moments I know will come when she is no longer with us.
Before Nana was bound to a wheelchair, and lost the main function in her hands, I sat with her at her vinyl covered dinner table and took the recipes down for her Macaroni and Marinated Pork Neck. I remember her telling me the recipe out of order- as she remembered it. It was brought with her from Malta, and I don’t think she had ever made a point to write it down.
I hope this recipe continues to live on with Ava, and her children.
1/2 Brown Onion
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
340g Tomato Puree (Passata)
2-3 Tbsp Tomato Paste
250g of each Pork and Veal Mince (Picture below of the one I use)
2-3 Tbsp Vegeta
1/2 tsp raw sugar
1/2 cup cup grated Parmesan (I use mozzarella sometimes)
250ml thickened cream
600g Rigatoni Pasta
Pre-heat your oven to 180 Celcius
1. Cook the pasta as per the instructions, drain and set aside.
2. Place the Olive Oil in a large frypan/pot and heat
3. Fry the onions and garlic
4. Once they are softened add the mince, passata and tomato paste. Leave it to cook until the oil rises (approx 10-12 min)
5. Add the sugar and vegeta and stir to combine
6. Beat the eggs and cream in a jug
Now it’s assembly time!
7. Get your baking dish (you can use any size, you just may need to use multiple dishes), lightly grease the dish and line with baking paper. I line the dish with baking paper so the cheese and passata doesn’t harden and become impossible to clean afterwards!
You are going to layer the macaroni as follows:
1st layer- tomato meat layer
2nd layer- pasta
3rd layer – cream/egg mix
4th layer- cheese
Repeat until all the meat is finished (ensuring that the top layer is cheese)
8. Place in the oven to bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the top of the macaroni is golden.
*This is the pork/beef mince I use!