Bananas were not introduced to North America after the Civil War and some decades later, when widespread consumption took hold, New Orleans became a major center for banana imports from Central and South America.
In 1951, Brennan’s owner Owen Brennan (the uncle of Ralph Brennan, the 3rd generation restaurateur and now-owner of Brennan’s restaurant today) asked his chef Paul Blangé and sister Ella to come up with a new dessert using bananas to name after his friend Richard Foster, the chairman of the New Orleans Crime Commission. At the time, Owen’s younger brother John (Ralph Brennan’s father,) was running “Brennan’s Processed Potato Company,” a produce company that had a surplus of bananas. What they came up with is now the world renowned Bananas Foster.
The dramatic, flambéed result is now the most-ordered item on Brennan’s menu. Thirty-five thousand pounds of bananas are sautéed each year in South American rum (but of course!) in preparation of the signature dessert.
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup banana liqueur
1 cup brown sugar
4 bananas, cut in half lengthwise, then halved
4 scoops vanilla ice cream
Combine butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a large sauté pan. Place pan over low heat and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Stir in banana liqueur, then place bananas in pan. When bananas soften and begin to brown, carefully add rum. Continue to cook sauce until rum is hot, then tip pan slightly to igniter rum. When flames subside, lift bananas out of pan and place four pieces over each portion of ice cream. Generously spoon warm sauce over ice cream and serve immediately.