The term CASSEROLE refers to both a baking dish and the ingredients it contains. My husband, and others for that matter, seem to cringe at the thought of a CASSEROLE for dinner?
We love meatballs, but do not like the disaster of eating a sub sandwich stuffed with an unsteady red sauce; it usually ends up all over me.
This dish works because…
Using chicken, we make the meatballs leaner and more healthy. The sauce being confined to a casserole dish, allows you to enjoy the accompaniment with each bite-sized meatball.
The bread and cheese become enhancements to the dish, making the meat the main attraction in each forkful.
Serve with a simple, side salad and you get a delicious dinner for two.
A casserole’s ingredients can include meat, vegetables, beans, rice and anything else the cook desires. Often a topping such as cheese or breadcrumbs is added for texture and flavor.
Every kitchen should be equipped with both a 2-quart and 3-quart casserole dish, preferably with lids; however, aluminum foil can work in a pinch.
I own plenty of casserole dishes; unfortunately, I do not have individual portion dishes. Therefore, I prepared the Chicken Meatball Sub Casserole recipe in one larger dish, dividing it into individual portions before serving.
Joy of Cooking declares our preconceived thought of a casserole, as described above is actually a “mock casserole.”
“Mock Casserole – a mixture of several foods, once of which may be a pasta or rice in a sauce. The mixture is often precooked or consists of a combination of precooked and quick-cooking food; and it is served in the baking dish in which it was heated.” –Joy of Cooking
Joy of Cooking declares TRUE CASSEROLING, is placing a tight-fitting lid on the baking dish. “Generous quantities of butter, fat or oil are added, and sometimes a small amount of stock. The stock, plus juices from the food, condenses on the lid and supplies a self-basting effect. A very long, low-temperature cook takes place, barely a simmer, creating a delicious residue; the residue is degreased and deglazed, which forms a sauce for the dish. This is also called à l’étouffée.” (Joy of Cooking, Rombauer, 1931)
Chicken Meatball Sub Casserole
Topped with a baguette slice, or two, and covered in melted, gooey provolone cheese, makes for a hearty, comforting meal.
Serves 2 Prep to Serving: 1.5 hours
- 8 oz. ground chicken
- 1/4 cup grated onion & 1/2 cup grated onion – divided
- 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 Tbsp. parsley
- 1 Tbsp. basil
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 2 – 4 slices from a French bread baguett
- 4 – 6 slices provolone cheese
- Salt and pepper
- 2 Tbsp & 1 Tbsp. olive oil – divided
Preheat oven to 400º Spray a 3 – 4 cup shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
TO MAKE THE MEATBALLS
Lightly season with salt and pepper.
Use a small meatball scoop. Scoop mixture into separate meatballs. Should be about 18-20 meatballs.
Place meatballs on a baking sheet which has been covered in parchment paper for easy clean up.
Freeze meatballs for about 10-15 minutes.
Remove from freezer and heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet.
Cook meatballs over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes per side, just till brown.
Transfer meatballs to a plate.
Pour our all but 1 Tbsp of grease. Place skillet back on medium-high heat.
TO MAKE THE SAUCE
Add to hot skillet, remaining 1/2 cup grated onion, fresh garlic and tomato paste.
Stir, heat for about 1 minute until combined.
Stir in crushed tomatoes, season with salt and pepper.
Pour heated sauce over meatballs making one even level of food in the dish.
Brush both sides of sliced baguette bread with a little olive oil.
Place baking dish at one end of sheet pan. Place sliced bread on baking sheet.
Bake for 7 minutes. Flip bread and bake 8 minutes more.
Remove from oven.
Place bread on top of meatballs in baking dish.
Top the bread with the provolone cheese, overlapping cheese, if necessary.
Set broiler to HIGH and cook until cheese melts. Watch closely should only take 4-5 minutes.
Using knife or spatula, separate casserole into two halves; making sure 2 slices of bread are in each portion.
Divide between two plates. Drizzle over any additional sauce left in the baking dish. Serve.
Recipe has been modified from originally appearing in October 2014 issue of Cuisine for Two