You can use frozen meatballs for this, but I decided to give you my mom’s master meatball recipe. This is because I love all of you more than frozen meatballs. However, you can freeze these meatballs after you fry them for up to a month. When you are ready to use them just simmer them in the sauce! Which by the way I gave the recipe for the sauce too! You can use already made sauce in a jar if that suits you better.
Part of what makes this casserole so amazing is the abundance of cheese the meatballs are baked in. Not only are you topping it with shredded mozzarella but slices of fresh mozz as well! I have found a great brand in the grocery store called Formaggio. See if you can find them in your neck of the woods by visiting their site : http://www.formaggiocheese.com/live/
I also shared this recipe and other recipes on PA Live and DC Today in honor of national meatball day!
In a large bowl add the ground beef, egg, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, garlic powder, basil, pepper (to taste like a teaspoon), and parsley. Get in there with your hands and mix it all together. Keep working the mixture until everything is incorporated.
With dampened hands roll the meatball portions in your hands. Be careful not to "pack in" the meatballs into a ball. They should be about 2 inches in diameter. Set them aside as you prepare the frying pan. (make sure to wash your hands as you move onto working with the frying pan!)
In a large frying pan (preferably a non-stick one) heat the olive oil. Once to olive oil is hot add in the garlic cloves. Saute the garlic cloves until they start to brown. Then add in your onions.
Once your onions start to soften add the meatballs in batches as to not crowd the pan. Fry them on all sides until they are browned and set aside.
In a large pot put in the two cans of tomatoes. Add a half a cup of water as well as the garlic powder, basil, salt and pepper.
To the sauce add the meatballs and the contents of the frying pan. The onion, garlic, and some of the oil. Stir gently to incorporate, you don't want to break apart your meatballs.
Cover and let simmer for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place about a 1/4 cup of gravy/sauce into a 9x12 casserole dish. Then arrange the bread slices in a single layer.
Next layer on the meatballs. Then pour over the meatballs 2 cups of gravy/sauce . Then add slices of fresh mozzarella cheese such as Formaggio over the top as well. Sprinkle 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese over the top.
Put it in the oven for 25 minutes uncovered. You will see the cheese start to melt and bubble on the top.