This meal started on the cover of my favorite cooking magazine and ended on our dinner table, this past Friday in mid-August, at our small cottage on a small lake in the Middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin. At the meal’s conclusion I took a poll among the five others seated at the table; Scott, his visiting mom and nephew, and two of our own boys. The scores were overwhelmingly high and if you give this one a try I am betting that yours will be too.
These balls of ground chicken are rolled in fresh grated Parmesan, herbs and aromatics – all before being browned in olive oil and then baked in a bath of basil marinara. As an added bonus, my favorite kitchen implement du jour carried the entire meal – our ancient and indestructible cast iron skillet.
The composition of these meatballs lends a light and non-greasy taste to both the accompanying sauce and slices of provolone-blanketed bread, which has been flavored and hand rubbed with garlic and then crisped in the oven.
Interspersed with leaves of garden-fresh basil thoughout, this meal is simple enough to serve for a weeknight meal to your family and tasty enough to serve to guests you are entertaining. This one is truly a must-try; you won’t believe what it will do for your meal ratings. -Dan
Chicken Meatball Sub Casserole
- for the meatballs
- 8 oz 250 g. ground chicken
- 1/4 cup grated onion
- 1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
- 1 egg beaten
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for browning
- for the sauce
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated onion
- 2 cloves fresh garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
- small handful of fresh basil leaves coarsely torn.
- 5 slices baguette Italian or artisan bread works well
- additional cloves of garlic for the bread if desired
- 4-5 slices provolone cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Coat shallow 9 x 11 shallow casserole or baking dish with nonstick spray.
for the meatballs
Combine all ingredients except olive oil.
Use scoop or round spoon to make into 1 inch diameter meatballs.
Place in freezer for 10 minutes.
Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium heat.
Cook meatballs until browned, about 2 minutes on each side.
Set meatballs aside.
for the sauce
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large saute pan, over medium heat.
Add onion, garlic, and tomato paste, saute for 1 minute.
Add tomatoes and basil, continue to stir and reduce to desired consistency.
Place meatballs in prepared baking dish.
Evenly distribute sauce over meatballs.
Brush each side of bread with olive oil.
Place meatballs dish in oven, along with bread slices directly on oven rack.
Turn bread slices after 8 minutes, bake bread and casserole for another 7 minutes.
Remove meatballs and bread from oven.
Set broiler on high.
Place bread in single layer on top of meatballs.
Cover each slice of bread with provolone, cut to fit bread if necessary.
Broil casserole until cheese melts.
Recipe NotesAdd 1/4 cup red wine to sauce for enhanced flavor and character.
If you don't have tomato paste, stir while heating and reduce sauce to desired consistency
Stewed or diced tomatoes may be substituted for crushed tomatoes. Use wooden spoon to mash tomatoes to desired texture while cooking.
Brush bread with whole garlic cloves prior to placing under broiler.