chicken meatball sub casserole
Chicken,  Main Course,  Meals For Two,  Recipes

Meatball Sub Converted to a Comfort Casserole For Two

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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? Why?

meatball sub casserole recipeIf I like the ingredients, why wouldn’t I make this convenient, simplified meal ?

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.

Define Casserole:

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

This recipe is an ideal, substantial dinner for two.  Instead of a traditional meatball sub, the bite-sized chicken meatballs are packed in a casserole dish, instead of on a hoagie roll.

Topped with a baguette slice, or two, and covered in melted, gooey provolone cheese, makes for a hearty, comforting meal.

Chicken Meatball Sub Casserole

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400º
  • Spray a 3 - 4 cup shallow baking dish with cooking spray.

TO MAKE THE MEATBALLS

  • In a large bowl combine the chicken,  1/4 cup grated onion, all the bread crumbs, all the parsley, basil and the egg.
  • 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.
  • Place meatballs in bottom of shallow baking dish.
  • 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

 

 

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