"Success is a skillet", her grandmother said. "Come here and I'll show you."
The little girl dropped the book she was reading, grabbed the brightly colored apron she received for her birthday and stood next to her Grandma, a woman that never seized to show her something worth knowing.
Grandma grabbed a twelve inch cast iron skillet from the shelf, and wiped it gently to remove the residual oil from its last seasoning. Meanwhile the little girl foraged for onions, garlic, parsley, carrots, and broccoli rabe among other things from around the kitchen. Grandma said, "bring me whatever we've got and we will make something of it. Success is a skillet. The outcome depends on what goes in."
The little girl looked on as some butter was melted in a small pan and added to it were Panko bread crumbs. They were lightly browned, mixed with fresh parsley and set aside. The girl shredded the carrots while grandma chopped onions, garlic too, always garlic, and removed sausage meat from its casing. All were added to the skillet, item by item.
Grandma spoke as she worked methodically, sautéing the onions and garlic, filling the house with warmth and the scent of making. The little girl looked and listened; her favorite place had become Grandma's kitchen. It might as well have been a classroom. Formative learning occupied this small space.
She began, "When I was young, we had fewer options. Women were expected to fulfill certain roles. Today my darling, you can be any number of things. But I implore you to be not a thing, but a person. A loving, hard-working person. People will throw around the word 'success' at every juncture in your life. Remember that success is a skillet. It comes slow and steady, like this cassoulet we are stewing. It can't be rushed, and you won't always be certain when it has arrived. You'll have to taste it. Varying elements comprise the desired end for different people. I know my successes had to cook a little longer. I was cautious, and took my time.
"Successes will be charged with flavor, only attained with time and careful attention. You have to respect the ingredients and nurture them along the way. With enough preparation, the outcomes truly take care of themselves. You musn't hurry or vital parts of your life will be overlooked. You have to savor the seemingly insignificant moments. They amount to so very much, even if at the time, you wish to push them aside."
"Grandma, when can we eat? " the little girl innocently asked. Grandma smiled tenderly and said, "with all this talking, supper is actually just about complete. Help me top it with breadcrumbs." She looked on knowing before her stood her most precious success.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 12 oz cooked sausage, sliced or diced
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 (15.5 ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can tomatoes, diced or crushed
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 5 ounces broccoli rabe, roughly chopped
The recipe for this cassoulet was adapted from Weight Watchers Magazine.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Set aside a twelve inch, seasoned, skillet. If you don't have a skillet, you can use a 13 by 9 baking dish, sprayed with vegetable oil. Or you can shop Lodge Skillets here.
In a small skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add panko and cook, stirring, for two minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool and toss with parsley.
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat, add onion and cook until onions are softened, about five minutes. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned. Add carrots and garlic. Cook for an additional three minutes, or until carrots are crisp-tender. Add the beans, broth, tomatoes, and all seasonings. Bring to a boil and add the broccoli rabe. Stir until broccoli rabe is wilted. Pour the mixture into your skillet, top with Panko and parsley. Cover with foil and bake until heated through, about fifteen minutes. Remove foil and cook for an additional five minutes, until the top is crusty and golden.