Everyone loves meatballs and everyone loves crab cakes, so we've created the best of both worlds: dainty crab cake meatballs that are simmered in a spicy tomato sauce. These crave-able delights are incredibly versatile. Toss them with pasta, stuffed them into a roll or pile them on top of polenta--you'll love them every which way.
Fold together the crabmeat, breadcrumbs, parsley, chives, eggs, garlic, lemon zest and juice, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and several grinds of black pepper with a spatula in a large bowl until everything is well combined. (Do not over-stir or shred the crabmeat.) Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to hydrate.
Using a 1/4-cup measure or 2-ounce ice cream scoop, scoop the crab mixture and roll into balls, transferring to a plate as you go.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Gently add half the meatballs and cook, turning with tongs, until brown all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding up to 1 more tablespoon of oil as needed.
Add the first batch of meatballs back to the pot and add the spicy tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water. Do not stir as it will break up the meatballs; instead, give the pot a shake so the sauce gets under the meatballs and they do not stick to the bottom. Bring to a strong simmer over medium-high heat, then lower to a gentle simmer and cook until the meatballs are heated through, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with flaky salt and crushed red pepper flakes, if using.