Alright... so the title isn't all that original. Then again, neither is the dish. This may seem a bit hypocritical because, in many of my previous posts, I repeatedly profess the need to incorporate flavor into the all possible aspects of the dishes you make for your guests. While this is true, and is cornerstone to my core belief about food, I should point out that there is an equally important counterpoint to be made here. A practice that can often wow your food audience every bit as much as bold, new flavors. That point: Simplicity.
Recently, I invited a much anticipated guest to spend some time with me here in Ohio. Additionally, with his being a fellow foodie, I knew that we would be cooking quite a bit of food. There was a rather impromptu fondue party in his honor, a night of baking calzones, many occasions on which we ate out, even a special treat of "no-bake" cookies prepared by my mom(Thanks mom!). There was one dish that we made, in particular, truly stands out every time I make it.
Let's face it, Bananas Foster is not a particularly exciting dish in theory. The Flavors of Banana and Carmel are not notably exotic or original. The method by which you prepare the dish is not complicated or challenging. It's not even particularly exciting to look at when it's prepared. At this point, I'm sure it sounds as though I think this is a rather bland dish... and nothing could be further from the truth.
Quite contrary, when you mix a little sugar, molasses, butter, rum and banana over some heat, the result is an exercise in sheer, blissful simplicity. The preparation is quick and unadulterated fun. This might just be evidenced by the countless number of pictures, videos, and (i'm sure) hilarious stories of me making the dish. Which, you can tell by now, I do quite often. The full bodied sweetness is downright comforting. Even the sight of a mound of white vanilla ice cream being suffocated by an ooze of brown caramel elixir would cause the most hardened Weight Watcher to crumble. It is exactly divine in it's simple-ness.
One of the things I like about this dish is how quickly it comes together. What this means though is that you should be prepared. Measure out each of the ingredients prior to beginning the dish so that they can quickly be added. (Also, if you have an audience, keep a long-neck lighter nearby. A good flambe is always a crowd pleaser, and as Julia Child would say: "It's not really necessary, but it's fun!")
Start by measuring out 4T Salted Butter(I'm going to give a shameless plug to Hartzler's Dairy here in Wooster for making what can only be described as the most awe-inspiring hunk of the most delicious butter I have ever experienced in my life. They sell it as far away as the west side market in Cleveland, so I recommend you go get yourself a roll), 1/2t Pure Vanilla Extract, 1/3c packed light brown sugar, a pinch of kosher salt, 1T Heavy Cream, 1/8t Cinnamon, 2 Medium Bananas (I cut mine into 1/2" thick pieces), and 2T Rum(I use Bacardi Select, but you can use your favorite.)
In a deep skillet, start by melting the butter with the vanilla over medium heat. As the butter finishes melting add the brown sugar and salt and stir constantly to fully dissolve the sugar in the butter. As soon as the sugar melts into a caramel mixture and begins to bubble vigorously(as with any caramel dish, be careful not to burn the sugar or it will taste like the black outside of a burned marshmallow), mix in the cream completely then reduce the heat to medium low. Gently stir in the cinnamon and bananas allowing them to cook for a few seconds. add the rum, giving a quick stir as you do. IMMEDIATELY remove from the heat and Flambe using the lighter allowing it to burn for only 2-3 seconds (ONLY use a long lighter and keep your hands clear of the pan or you'll singe your hands, trust me on this) then blow out any remaining flames. It's best to allow to cool slightly before serving. When Ready Serve over a generous helping of natural vanilla bean ice cream, and garnish with slices of cinnamon roll.
There you have it, Simple ingredients and fast preparation time. As a matter of fact, by the time we started making this dish, it was safe to say that I was exhausted from trotting around to various places and eating out and it didn't drain the little energy I had left to make it. I was, however, quite ready to sit down and share the delicious, uncomplicated dish between the two of us. One big plate, 2 spoons, and a movie. What a great end to a fantastic and busy week.