The Countrytown Cookoff: Michael Carpenter’s Mum’s Macaroni

9 January 2024 | 8:55 am | Ellie Robinson

Nothing captures the spirit of family quite like a good, hearty meal.

Michael Carpenter's Mum's Macaroni

Michael Carpenter's Mum's Macaroni (Supplied)

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The holidays might be over, but if there’s one thing we’re taking with us into 2024, it’s the warmth and comfort we felt at all those family get-togethers. And of course, nothing captures that spirit quite like a good, hearty meal – one made with love, passion, and a whole bunch of cheese.

For Sydney-native country star Michael Carpenter, the food that reminds him most of family is a multi-generational pasta dish with oodles of rich tomato sauce and strong ties to his Maltese heritage. It was a dish his Nunna (grandmother) used to wow the extended family with – then his mum turned it into a household staple, and now he keeps the tradition rolling with his own family.

Carpenter sat down with Countrytown to share the family-favourite recipe amid some downtime from his album-making endeavours; the magnificent multi-hyphenate is currently working on his third studio album with the Banks Brothers, following 2021’s Introducing... and 2022’s Mr Goodtime (the trio also dropped a live EP in 2021, followed last year by a full-length live album and the first volume in their Bluegrass Sessions project).

Last November, Carpenter and the Banks Brothers dropped a double A-side single – comprising Self Taught Medicine Man and Everyone’s An Asshole (In Someone’s Story) – as a preview of the upcoming record. Have a listen to the former track below, then read on to learn how you can recreate Carpenter’s mum’s famous macaroni.


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This is a very special dish in my family. My mother was born in Malta and is the eldest of six kids. My 99-year-old grandmother is still with us (and going strong), and this dish has loomed largely at any family function since before I can remember. We are a very close family, and it was a regular thing for the whole family – and by that I mean all the uncles and aunties and many, many cousins – to come together. When I was young it would be weekly, then it became monthly, then on holiday occasions. Now, less so, as we all have our own lives.

I’m not much of a cook, mainly because Mum never really let me in the kitchen and she was an amazing cook to me, my brothers and my Dad. But about ten years ago I wanted to learn to cook this dish. So we sat there one day and she taught me her version. My Nunna was there telling her all the things she was doing wrong, of course. And now I try to cook it the same as Mum. It’s one of my kids’ favourite dishes too, and it reminds us all of family – so the tradition will continue.

Funnily enough, even though Mum and I follow the same recipe, her’s tastes a little different to mine, and both of ours are a little different to Nunna’s. I imagine my kids’ version will be different again...



  • 500g beef mince

  • 1 onion

  • Garlic

  • Canola oil

  • 4 eggs

  • Pack of penne

  • Milk

  • 500g tomato paste

  • Shredded tasty cheese

  • Parmesan

  • Salt

  • Pepper


  1. Cook bag of penne in salted boiled water for five minutes. Just to soften. Strain and leave in colander.

  2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.

  3. Finely chop onion and garlic. Put enough oil in pot to cover the base, then a bit more. Put onion and garlic in and cook ’til the colour goes a bit translucent.

  4. Put mince in, then mix and scoop thoroughly until totally ‘browned’. Put in whole jar of tomato paste. Add water to jar to get the remnants. Make sure it’s all stirred through. Take off stove.

  5. Add penne to pot. Mix in thoroughly.

  6. Place in Pyrex tray. Mix up a bit more, and flatten.

  7. Whisk four eggs thoroughly. Add about 2/3 glass milk. Whisk again. Pour through pyrex dish evenly.

  8. Add grated and parmesan cheese on top. Add some salt and pepper.

  9. Put in oven for about 35 to 40 minutes.

  10. Check on its crispy brownness.

  11. Serve and enjoy the legendary deliciousness.