Brooke Duncan the Third is used to it. Over the years, he’s heard restaurant servers spin one after another fallacious legend about Bananas Foster. One story hones in on a homeless man named Foster who roamed New Orleans’ French Quarter, knocking on restaurant kitchen doors in search of banana handouts. Another says Mr. Foster was an eccentric philanthropist with a banana fetish. Most of the time, Duncan just listens and gets on with dessert. But every once in a while, he feels compelled to set the record straight.
Famed New Orleans restaurateur Owen Brennan named Bananas Foster for Duncan’s maternal grandfather, Dick Foster. Half a century later, few Americans would be able to tell you that Foster once ran the New Orleans Housing Authority and Department of Welfare. But they do know and love his dessert.
Bananas Foster—a rummy flambé of bananas caramelized in brown sugar, butter & banana liqueur and served over vanilla ice cream—was created by Chef Paul Blange in 1951 in response to Brennan’s request for a delicious new way to enjoy bananas with rum.
“The way my grandfather tells it, he was on a fishing trip when Owen Brennan called and asked if he’d be okay with Brennan’s naming the dessert after him,” says Duncan. “Grandfather liked being fussed over, so he said, “Sure!” Sixty-two years later, Duncan still orders Bananas Foster only at Brennan’s. “They created it, they perfected it, and to me, that’s just the place to have it.” Other eaters have no such qualms. Bananas Foster spin-offs have been spotted as far off as Ulaanbaatar, running the gamut from cupcakes, to cheesecakes, to adult-only milkshakes. This, though, is the original recipe, compliments of Brennan’s. Laissez les bons temps rouler!!
Makes four servings
- ¼ cup (½ stick) butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup banana liqueur
- 4 bananas, cut in half
lengthwise, then halved
- ¼ cup dark rum
- 4 scoops vanilla ice cream (one scoop per bowl)
- Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet. Place the pan over low heat on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
- Stir in the banana liqueur, then place the bananas in the pan.
- When the banana sections soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum.
- Continue cooking until rum is hot. Tip the pan and ignite the rum with a match, or lighter.
- When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream. Generously spoon warm sauce over the top of the ice cream and serve immediately.