Banana’s Foster "Chicago Style"


Have you ever realized that many celebrity chefs have a tendency to take ingredients and transform then into something unrecognizable? That a simple cut of beef or fillet of salmon can no longer look or taste like its original form?

This has puzzled me for a couple of months now, following a piece I watched on a local nightly news program. It highlighted some of the local Chicago chefs and their tasting menu’s, which boldly included fragrances as part of the dish. Why would I pay half a weeks salary to smell cinnamon? I can go to the local Cinnabon Shop, pay $3.50 for a roll and spend an hour delighting over the sticky sweet goodness.

From a chef’s perspective, if it is not broke, there is no need to fix it.

This weeks recipe takes a classic New Orleans dish and “fixes” a common problem I have seen time and time again. If you are not preparing Bananas Foster tableside, by the time you get the dessert to the table you have a melted ice cream mess sitting in the bowl. No one, including me, wants to eat soupy Bananas Foster. My goal was to leave the taste in tact but change the presentation. By doing so, the integrity of the dish remains and the problem is fixed.

In this version, the ground cinnamon is replaced with sticks, giving a stronger cinnamon presence to the dish. The flambéing is eliminated all together (many smoke alarms have gone off because of improper flambéing techniques), and the ice cream is replaced with a Chicago classic- Eli’s cheesecake.

With these changes, the dish can proudly be served on a plate rather then a bowl. The flavor is not compromised and it still resembles the original 1951 Brennan’s dessert.

Banana’s Foster “Chicago Style”

1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup banana flavored rum
4 bananas cut into pieces
1/4 cup spiced rum
4 slices Eli’s Cheesecake

Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon sticks in a skillet. Place the pan over low heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the banana rum and then place the bananas in the pan.

When the banana pieces soften slightly and begin to brown, carefully add the spiced rum. Continue to cook the sauce for another five minutes until it thickens slightly. Remove from heat.

Plate the cheesecake and spoon bananas and sauce over the top, making sure that the sauce pools at the bottom of the plate. This recipe serves four, but can easily be doubled.


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