Daily in New Orleans, many a pan of sliced bananas, brown sugar, butter, and rum burst into bright flame to the delight of the audience of diners. No, the city is not plagued by an overabundance of combustible ingredients—Bananas Foster, the saucy, sweet, rum- and liqueur-drenched dessert of tableside flambéed fame, is purposely set ablaze to create its perfectly caramelized flavor.
This lauded dish was created by Brennan’s Restaurant chef Paul Blangé to incorporate the ingredient of the day: bananas. The new and exotic fruit had taken hold of the public’s interest, and Chef Blangé’s new creation, flambéed before diners’ very eyes, was a huge hit. Owner Owen Brennan named the new dish after his friend, Richard Foster, whose civic efforts had helped encourage visitors to the French Quarter.
Diners, already alight with the vibrance of the show, get a second dose of warmth from the rum in the first bite. But this is appropriate to New Orleans, where boozy brunches are part of the local charm. The popular “Breakfast at Brennan’s,” a multicourse, languishing morning meal, grew still more acclaimed when finished with this new favorite.
Folks often make the pilgrimage to experience the original at Brennan’s, where 35,000 pounds of bananas are set ablaze each year to become the caramelized beauties they were always meant to be. While the dish is certainly worth the trip, you don’t have to travel to try this perfect meld of flavors. Use this recipe to enjoy this favorite at home.
- ¾ cup unsalted butter
- 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 5 ripe bananas, cut in half and sliced lengthwise
- ½ cup dark rum
- Vanilla ice cream, to serve
- In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Stir in brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon; cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Add bananas, and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add rum; use a stick lighter to ignite rum. Cook until flames die out. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
Find more great recipes like this one in Taste of the South’s March/April 2017 issue!