Showmanship is predicated on an element of danger, so please careful when making this stuff. Don't cook it on a stove with very flammable things nearby (isn't it time to take the tapestries out of your kitchen?), and don't overload on the booze and fireball yourself.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 ripe but still firm (so they don't fall apart) bananas, unpeeled
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
- Pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce shot) crème de banana or other banana-flavored liqueur
- 1/3 cup dark rum
- Ice cream (for serving)
Special equipment: For maximum wow, do this at the table with a portable gas stove, but please, don't use a camping stove that can tip over or release dangerous fumes indoors. If you're cooking on an electric stove, I'd suggest using a long match.
- Gather everyone around, but make sure you have room to work. Make sure no one is heavily hairsprayed. (I grew up in Jersey in the '80s. I'm sensitive to these things.)
- Melt butter in a heavy, large (10- or 12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Here's your first chance for a little performance: peeling and cutting the banana without touching the flesh. Hold one of the bananas with the stem up. With a sharp knife, slice the skin not quite all the way through the fruit just under the stem. Tip the stem back, opening the cut, and slip the skin in between the tines of a fork. Twirl the fork downwards, so that it peels off a strip of skin. Now slice the banana into ½-inch chunks through the opening in the skin, and let them fall into the butter. Repeat with the other bananas, and listen for applause.
- Raise the flame to medium high and let the bananas brown slightly in the butter, about 2 minutes, and add the cinnamon, brown sugar and salt, stirring to dissolve.
- It's showtime. Take the pan a few inches away from (not above) the flame and add the banana liqueur and rum. If it boils immediately and briskly, give it a very quick stir and bring the pan back toward the burner, tipping it slightly toward the flame to ignite the booze (don't spill!). The flames can sometimes shoot pretty high, so be alert. Once it's lit, keep cooking, and if you're daring and have a long enough spoon, stir and even lift some of the sauce, dropping it back into the pan from a few inches above to create a fiery splashing effect. (If the alcohol doesn't boil immediately when you add it, put the pan on the flame and heat it until it does before tipping it to ignite. If you'd prefer not to do that, or if you're cooking on an electric stove, use a long match to ignite the alcohol once it's boiling.)
- Once the flames have died, keep cooking, stirring, for a few seconds to a minute more, until the sauce is thoroughly incorporated. Serve immediately over ice cream. Feel freer and more confident.