Maltese cuisine is the outgrowth of the very small country’s history and geographical location. For centuries an important stop on global shipping trade routes, Malta was able to supplement its meager natural indigenous foods supply with imports. And having been occupied for centuries by foreign powers, Maltese cuisine was developed in large part to cater to its rulers.
Hence, Maltese cuisine reflects very strong English and Sicilian influences, and also fairly strong influences from Spain, France, Provencal, Maghrebin, and some other Mediterranean cultures. A stewed rabbit dish, called Fenkata, is considered by most as the national dish of Malta. And we will be offering that recipe here.
But first, let’s start our Maltese cuisine ethnic food adventure with Malta’s answer to the “meat and pasta pie” found on so many cultures, a marvelous and tasty dish called Timpana. You ready? Good. Let’s get started with some authentic and traditional …
- 2 tbsp. scallion infused olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 oz. thick sliced bacon, chopped
- 7 oz. lean (less than 10% fat) ground beef
- 7 oz. ground pork
- 5 oz. chicken livers, rinsed, patted dry, and rough chopped
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 8 oz. canned, chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 9 oz. uncooked penne pasta (or other small, tubular pasta)
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten, separated, 2 eggs and 1 egg
- 1 tbsp. whole milk
- 5 frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
For the Parsley Salad-
- 2 cups chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 shallot (or 3 green onions), chopped fine
- 1/4 cup capers
- 1 tbsp. fresh pure lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. scallion infused olive oil
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-duty saucepan or skillet over medium heat.
- Add in onion and sauté, stirring now and then, for 5 minutes or until soft, fragrant and translucent.
- Add in the garlic, bacon and bay leaves, and sauté for another 4 minutes or until bacon starts to brown.
- Now add in the pork and beef, and sauté, using a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 6-7 minutes, or until the meat is well browned.
- Next add in the chicken livers and sauté, stirring, for 4 minutes or until browned.
- Add in the tomato paste and cook for 2 more minutes, then add the broth, nutmeg, and chopped tomatoes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, and bring your Maltese Timpana up to a vigorous boil.
- Now turn the heat down to just a lively simmer, and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes – you want the liquid to reduce slightly. Then remove from the burner.
- While the main dish is cooking, prepare your pasta. Cook it in a large pan or pot of salted water until al dente softened. Drain the water off, then add the pasta into the pot with the saucy meat mixture, along with the grated Parmesan cheese and 2 of the lightly beaten eggs. Mix and combine everything together well, then set aside to cool.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220° C).
- Trim (if necessary) 4 pastry sheets to fit a lightly greased 9″ X 13″ baking or casserole dish.
- Place a pastry sheet on the bottom of the dish, then spread out some saucy meat mixture over it. Repeat this layering process until 4 layers of pastry and filling are in the dish.
- Take the last pastry sheet and press it firmly over the entire Maltese Timpana, and trim the edges (if necessary) to just cover the edges of the dish.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F (180 C), brush the top pastry with the remaining 1 beaten egg, and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the pastry is turning a pleasing golden brown.
- Remove the Maltese Timpana from the oven and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
- While the Timpana cools, make your parsley salad. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and season with to taste with salt and pepper.
- When ready, slice your Maltese Timpana into generous serving sized portions, and serve with the parsley salad.
For more Maltese Cuisine dishes, click on the recipes below:
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