Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pan Fried Bananas? In the Deep South? Introducing Southern Pan Fried Bananas

Oh yeah!  Pan fried bananas.  And not just in any pan and certainly not with just any ol' oil either.  A little cast iron griddle, bacon grease, and bananas have made an incredible side dish for a seared steak today.  Well.  It was actually a couple of weeks ago, but I took photos so we can pretend it was today.

**Tangent warning:  I'm about to get side-tracked for a paragraph.**

I knew from the get-go that I wouldn't be a daily blogger:  responsibilities and time limitations won't allow for it.  I also seldom cook for myself any more.  Sometimes I have a twinge of  something or another when other foodies ask "What's for dinner/supper/tapas?" and I haven't any response.  I'd as soon eat a fried egg sandwich noon and night as cook a meal just for me, washed down with a pot of coffee in the morning and a quart of iced tea or ice water in the evening.  Let the holidays get cranked up and I'll try my best to post a few favorite recipes in the making -- keyword there is try.  Truth be told (don't you LOVE when folks say that as if every other thing said weren't the truth?) I'm really not that much of a food blogger but for the fact that I can cook, turn a decent phrase, and I bake a bunch of cakes over the course of a year's time.

All that to say, I was excited to find a whole bag of bananas for $1.00 at the Pig a couple of weeks ago.  They're normally $.79 a pound.  A frazzling pound!!!  I like bananas.  I think they're one of the most perfect fruits ever, being easy to get into, consume, and dispose of the peeling.  I can almost do it one handed and certainly need no equipment to eat one.  Aside from their high glycemic index value, they're full of potassium and fiber and are yellow, a primary color (and who doesn't like primary colors?).  These are freckled with ripeness.  I like them this way (perfect for mushing into peanut butter).

I also purchased a package of thin sirloin steaks.  They were in the green meats, also know as "reduced for quick sale."  I'll buy beef that way, the bit of discoloration caused by oxidization of iron in the beef blood.  Tastes great!  I like to season it or put it in marinade and put it in on in the freezer.  I don't know why I picked up the thin sirloin -- it's hardly steak by our inch-and-a-quarter-thick definition, guess the price was right.

ANNNnnnnnyways.  Three or four bananas went into a batch of spiced banana nut bread.  Three or four bananas went into an easy banana cobbler that I had seen the recipe for on someone's blog.  I'd encourage you to try it.  It's that easy peach cobbler only made with bananas:  a cup of sugar, a cup of margarine (or butter) melted in the pan, a cup of flour and a cup of milk.  I put three bananas in the freezer for a later batch of nut bread and had four left.  And thin sirloin steaks.

I got to wondering how pan fried bananas would be as a side dish.  Lots of cuisines have fried bananas.  Could I make a Deep South fried banana?  Why, yes!  Yes I could.  Bacon grease is necessary so if you've been looking for a reason to buy bacon and cook and consume it, a driving desire for Southern Pan Fried Bananas is your excuse.

You'll need a skillet or a good heavy frying pan that holds and distributes heat well.  This is the cast iron griddle Mama gave me for a birthday.  I think she's given new cast iron pots and frying pans over the years to keep me from sneaking taking hers that have the seasoning of time firmly coated in them.

That's a good blop of bacon grease on the griddle.  How much is a blop?  It's enough to coat the skillet and both sides of a cut ripe banana with a little left over to cook a steak -- probably two tablespoons.

It's not rocket science, folks, although there is some science to it.  You need a good pan with excellent heat distribution attributes 'cause the bananas are going to be seared and pan fried in the same moment using a medium high temperature. The bananas are already ripe and soft but not mushy.  I don't want mushy bananas as a side dish.  A nice firm caramelized crust with the same texture as an uncooked banana is desired here.  A low heat cooking temperature will make for a goopy nasal-mucous-y looking banana.  Seriously!  How do I know what a lower temperature cooked banana looks like?  Shall I answer that with another question (Hhhhha!  I just did {I really do slay me sometimes})??  How do you think I know to use a higher temperature? I didn't even save the photo from the first batch.  We eat our mistakes in this kitchen so if you like baby-food consistency adult foods go ahead and cook it slow and low; it tastes fine but the texture is unpleasant.

Peel, slice and quarter the bananas.  Mine quartered themselves as I was flipping them so if you do it in this step you'll save fetching the split banana from the edge of the pan and the fire.

The griddle has been heated to a medium-high temperature where a drop of water dances and sizzles across it, evaporating within seconds.  The bacon grease is added after the griddle is hot.  It isn't smoking but it's pretty close to it.

Add the sliced bananas.  Within a few seconds the edges will be fried and you can see the natural sugars beginning to caramelize.  Make yourself count to ten slowly and flip the bananas.

The aroma here was a most pleasant surprise.  It reminded me very much of Bananas Foster with the added element of the smoky bacon smell.  I had to try out a few bites and discovered a slight sprinkle of coarse salt completed all the flavors.

Pan frying a thin steak to rare is impossible.  For me.  Two minutes on one side and a minute on the other was still too long.

I had to settle for medium for the green sirloin steaks but they were tasty and the side of pan fried bananas was delightful, the previously unthought of marriage of flavors between the two a sensory discovery.

A young friend was over the next morning and I again pan fried bananas and served on top of the spiced banana nut bread that had been sliced and toasted (in bacon grease) on the griddle.  It. Was. Awesome!

Make it healthier if you must, with vegetable oils.  It's not my business what you do once you make it your own (as long as you're not plagiarizing).  Try it with bacon grease just once, though.  It'll be worth every artery-clogging molecule of plaque.  I promise....

Those ingredients again are:
2 to 4 tablespoons bacon grease
multiple bananas
light sprinkle of coarse salt

Heat griddle or pan to medium high temperature.  I could go on a google search to tell you what this will be but instead, I'll tell you to have a cup of water ready to drip a drop of water in the pan.  When the water dances and sizzles and dissipates in a matter of ten to fifteen seconds the pan is hot enough.

Add the blop of bacon grease, swirling it to quickly melt and coat the pan.   When it's hot and almost smoking (perhaps a minute at this point) add the bananas.  Let cook on one side, watching for coloration to begin on the edge of the banana.  Flip and cook another few moments.

Serve with a light sprinkle of coarse salt.  I like coarse salt to finish a dish.  I like the way there's a bite and explosion of salt in my mouth that quickly spreads across the palate to season the food.  Coarse salt is the ONLY way to go with these pan fried bananas.

Y'all enjoy!

And here's a cake made for a young fellow that's frequented this front porch.  He's a Reese's Peanut Butter cup fanatic.  The cake is chocolate, the filling is fluffernutter and cream filling, with fudge icing.  Peanut butter cups and kit kat bars complete the decoration.


  1. Gurl, you is not right somehow (said lovingly in a Southern sister sort of way). It takes me forever to read one of your posts because I start laughing and lose my place. Lawd, chile. You are such entertainment.

  2. What did you do with the leftovers?

  3. OMW! (Oh my word!) I just happen to have some bananas (a staple) and bacon grease! Can't wait!