Flaming Bananas

The idea of cooking Bananas Foster had been floating around the house for a while.  For some reason, I felt like I’d eaten it before, but I didn’t have a memory of it, it was just some vague dessert in my mind.

Having some friends over for a tri-tip dinner, we decided Bananas Foster would be the dessert, and planned accordingly, which meant buying a few more bananas than we usually do, making sure we had vanilla ice cream, and heading to the liquor store for banana liqueur (not something we regularly stock in the bar).

Well, I must not have had the dish before, because had I known what amazingness the Bananas Foster would turn out to be, I’d be eating it all the time.

Jan sautéed the butter, adding brown sugar and bananas and allowing a slight butter-sugar crust to form on the outside of the bananas.

The dessert made for a dramatic preparation, all fire and flames, complete with setting off the smoke detector.  After opening a few windows, the noises to follow the loud “beep—beep” of the smoke alarm were everyone’s “oh my gosh” utterances and “yum” noises once we finally tasted the dessert.

Breaking through the crust and into the gooey banana made me think of crème brûlée, but better.  And as the bananas began to melt the vanilla ice cream, it only improved my opinion.

While we devoured our bowls, Jan told us that he’d made one slight modification to the original recipe, using Grand Marnier instead of the rum.  I think that night, Bananas Foster became everyone’s new favorite dessert.  Because the recipe is relatively simple and easy to prepare, Jan had no objections when we asked for more, and a second batch was whipped up in a matter of minutes.

Bananas Foster

This recipe comes from On Cooking, which is a great resource that every kitchen should have.  The cooking textbook not only gives measurements in ounces and grams (and therefore more accurate and precise) and more food preparation techniques than you ever thought you would need, it also includes recipes from the sources who first created them.

The Bananas Foster Recipe is from Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans and was originally created by Chef Paul Blangé.  Blangé first made Bananas Foster in 1951 and named it a friend of the restaurant owner and frequent customer Richard Foster, who, as chairman of the New Orleans Crime Commission, worked to clean up the French Quarter, where Brennan’s Restaurant was located.  The dish was a hit and today, the restaurant continues to go through 35,000 pounds of bananas each year.

Here is the recipe from On Cooking:

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Yield: 4 Servings
Method: Sautéing
Whole butter                                2 oz.                60 g
Brown sugar                                 8 oz.                225 g
Cinnamon, ground                    ½ tsp.             3 g
Banana liqueur                           2 fl. oz.            60 ml
Bananas, cut into quarter      4                        4
White rum                                    2 fl. oz.            60 ml
Vanilla ice cream                      4 scoops         4 scoops

  1. Combine the butter, sugar and cinnamon in a sauté or flambé pan.  Cook over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan.  When the bananas soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum.
  3. Continue to cook until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum.  When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream.  Spoon the warm sauce over the ice cream and serve immediately.

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