Joe Nell Barnett said:
I have been out of town and just got around to glancing at back issues of the Lexington-Herald. My Mother always served banana croquettes at holidays and other special occasions but would NEVER have considered using mayo, Miracle Whip or any other bought dressing. Our family would not have eaten them that way and would have felt that to be an imitation of the real thing. My Mother made her dressing from scratch and I can attest to the fact that it is much better.
Mattie’s Dressing for Banana Croquettes
Beat 1 egg, add 3 Tablespoons sugar, 2 Tablespoons vinegar, 1 Tablespoon flour, 1/2 cup water. Cook until thickened. Cool to room temperature. Roll the bananas in sauce then crushed peanuts. Delicious!!!
Suzanne Peal writes:
“My mother-in-law made “banana fritters” using a homemade dressing and spanish peanuts. Her dressing consisted of an egg and equal parts of vinegar and sugar (being a country cook, she never measured). Roll the bananas in the dressing after it cools and then roll it in the nuts which have been smashed by hammer. I have been able to approximate her recipe but I always have trouble with the egg. The white tends to cook up into white pieces. I have overcome that problem by straining the dressing.”
Barbara Vance recalls:
“I remember McKnight’s Boarding House in Cynthiana serving banana salad, which was banana’s sliced bite size, tossed lightly with Miracle Whip, sprinkled with chopped peanuts. Your article brought back happy memories of the late 50’s.”
Stanye DeBell Adkinson of Berea remembers:
My maternal grandmother, Mrs. S.R. Demaree of Bardstown (better known as Ms. Demie) made banana croquettes part of her holiday dinners. We cousins would fill out plates with them in fear that we wouldn’t get our “fair share.” There may have been room left for a sliver of turkey, but I wouldn’t swear to it! She would be happy to know that her great great grandchildren are now enjoying the tradition she began.
Thanks for asking “what I know about banana croquettes.” Simply put, they represent love and family as well as good eating!
Bob Zwicker writes:
Your article about banana croquettes stirred up some great memories for me – growing up in Louisville back in the ’50’s. We had banana croquettes at every special occasion, and my sisters still serve them regularly. (My job as a kid was to crush the peanuts.) Incidentally, this dish was served regularly in some local restaurants years ago – notably the Blue Boar in Louisville. My sister said she first learned the dish from our grandmother, who died in 1945, so it must go back to the ’30’s, at least.
I managed to get the recipe for the syrup from one of them, and here it is:
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
Mix flour, sugar and salt. Stir in vinegar and milk. Heat until it bubbles, then stir in a well beaten egg. Heat for about 2 minutes, then add butter. When butter is melted and mixed in, syrup is ready. When cooled to room temperature, pour on sliced bananas and sprinkle on crushed peanuts.
Ellen Napier of Lexington writes:
I’m from Bloomfield in Nelson County, and banana croquettes are still a “must have” for special occasion dinners with my family. Banana croquettes grace the table every Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The Thompson recipe (my maiden name is Thompson) was very simple: Miracle Whip, bananas, and Spanish peanuts. My best friend’s mother used mayo, sugar and milk to create a dressing, and another friend’s mother made a dressing by cooking eggs and sugar together. I usually was the one to make the banana croquettes in my family, and, to this day, we still use the little plastic grinder where the peanuts go in the top, the handle is turned, and the ground up peanuts fall into the bottom of the container. Our peanuts were coarsely ground while some friends would use very finely chopped peanuts.
I didn’t realize banana croquettes weren’t widely known in Kentucky until I took them to a potluck in Lexington at my first job after college. The ladies who set up the buffet table put them with the desserts. I couldn’t believe no one knew they were considered a side dish or salad! That was about 25 years ago, and since then, I have informally polled people I meet about banana croquettes. No one ever knows what they are. I concluded that they must be known only in Nelson County. I was glad to see in your article that Bowling Green knows about them too.
Patsy Carter Shryock of Versailles:
I read with interest your article on banana croquettes. I grew up in Nonesuch, and my family called this particular dish “banana salad.” My mother, Margaret Carter, would always take “banana salad” to our Homecoming picnics at Nonesuch Presbyterian Church, and we usually had them in the summer at our picnics. We use sliced bananas with Miracle Whip salad dressing spread lightly on the bananas with crushed peanuts heavily applied. Incidentally, I always use my Grandmother’s rolling pen to crush the peanuts.
Melinda Warford (for my Mother, Sherley Teater who lives in Nicholasville:
Today I received a note in the mail from my Mother along with your recent article on banana croquettes. She wanted me to send our family recipe in which is a must have at our house on holidays. My Mother calls her recipe “Banana Salad” and she got the recipe from her Mother (my grandmother) who in turn years ago acquired it from a neighbor. It goes like this:
2 whole eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons. vinegar
Cook until thickened and add 3 or 4 tablespoons cream. Let cooll.
Slice bananas in half, spread dressing on and add crushed peanuts.
Barbara Harper-Bach of Lexington:
My mother used to make this salad all the time and it was one of our favorites.
Using four bananas, sliced in half lengthwise, spread with Old Fashioned Creamy Peanut Butter and put back together. Cut each banana in half and place both halves, side by side, on a bed of lettuce leaves for each serving. Cover with cooked salad dressing (spread all over to completely mask the two banana sandwich halves) and cover with chopped peanuts. Add a small dollop of mayonnaise on top (this is no double where the mayonnaise addition came from). The wonderful flavor of the cooked dressing insures that the lettuce will be devoured also. Makes four salads.
Cooked salad dressing:
½ cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
Beat egg; add sugar and vinegar, beating together well. Cook in small, heavy saucepan over medium heat until thickened. Let cool.
Vickie Ritchie of Paris:
There was a place in Cynthiana, McKnight’s, that served banana salad. It was like a smorgasbord. They served everything in wood bowls on the table and you would sit and eat with everybody. When I read that, it brought back childhood memories. When I was about 5 or 6 or 7, my parents and I would go every weekend. Dad would get paid and we’d go to McKnight’s.
Debbie Gordon Lucas of Lawrenceburg:
“I am so glad to know that there are other people who know what a banana croquette is! I grew up with my grandparents in Anderson County, KY (in the sixties & seventies) and have wonderful memories of great country food. I still cook that way! My grandmother made banana croquettes for many many summer meals and we would always eat those first and followed by tons of fried chicken, etc. We would also have fried rabbit, squirrel, quail, etc. along with biscuits and gravy for our breakfast too.”
Charlotte Hill of Waco:
I just read your article in the October 6 edition of the Herald about banana croquettes. These yummy treats have been a part of every holiday meal in my family for as long as I can remember (I am 58). We made them using Miracle Whip Salad dressing with a little sugar added. Cut the bananas in thirds, roll in dressing and then in crushed peanuts. I grew up on the Marion/Washington county line, close to Maker’s Mark Distillery. These were quite popular in that area but when I moved to Lexington upon graduation and later to Madison county, no one here had heard of them. I was amazed this was not something everyone knew about and enjoyed. We still enjoy them at every holiday gathering of my family.
Sue Gage Smith of Lexington:
I got a smile on my face when I read your headline about banana croquettes. I grew up in Springfield (Washington County) KY and there was no question about one item that would always be on the table for any special occasion (and many every day meals) in my family, Banana Croquettes. I have tried to determine where this special dish derived from but have never found out. I just know there was no one in my family who did not love them and looked for them on the table. My families Banana Croquettes are made with my Grandmother, Gage Shehan’s dressing recipe and ground peanuts. It gives the Croquettes a sweet and sour taste that blends well with the salty peanuts and the sweet bananas. It is one of our main staples handed down from generation to generation and is now being prepared by my children. Following is the dressing recipe passed down from my grandmother.
2 eggs well beaten
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup white vinegar
Mix well and cook on medium to medium low heat stirring constantly until thickened. Cool. To this dressing add 2 to 3 tablespoons mayonnaise to thin and flavor.
Grind red skin peanuts finely. Cut bananas in half or thirds. Roll bananas in dressing mixture to coat well then roll in the peanuts.
Linda Peevy of Lexington:
While I was a student at LSU during the 50’s. Our tuition included our room and either a 5-day or 7-day meal plan, so were obligated to eat in one of the school cafeterias. Regularly, we were offered, in the salad section, a whole banana on a lettuce leaf that had been rolled in chopped nuts (pecans or peanuts) or day old yellow cake crumbs and topped with a mixture of peanut butter and honey. It was really good. Your article in the Header-Leader this morning brought back memories of that dish.”
Vicki Powers of Willamstown:
My paternal grandmother, Lurah Fortner, made a dish she called “Banana Salad”.
This recipe was entered into the Mt. Olivet Church of Christ cookbook “Sharing our Best” in 1995 by my mother, Jo Ann Fortner, who also makes the “Banana Salad”. I grew up eating this salad, it is a family favorite.
Lurah Fortner’s Banana Salad
Thin mayonnaise with milk until coating consistency. Cut bananas into
2 to 3 chunks. Crush corn flakes. Roll banana chunks in mayonnaise
mixture then in crushed corn flakes.
Rosa Hicks of Lexington:
Your story about bananas rolled in crushed peanuts brought back a
very good memory for me. My grandmother made these for her children
in the 1920s and for her grandchildren in the 1950s. She would roll
the bananas in pudding (made from scratch, of course) and then in the
crushed peanuts. Sometimes she would put them in the refrigerator to
chill while we ate the meal.
Sharron Kirby of Winchester:
“My mother’s people came from Hodgenville, Magnolia, and Hart County. Everybody in my mother’s family made banana croquettes. I’m 70, back when I was a little girl we bought Spanish peanuts and took the sin off. Mother would put them in the oven to roast a little bit. We had a hand crank food grinder and we would grind the peanuts and then at the end when we took it apart to wash, there was always a little peanut butter inside.
“Mother made her dressing. It wasn’t anything I loved so I never got the recipe. But it was the kind that has 2 eggs, vinegar, sugar and cooked in a double boiler. When it was thick, she added a lump of butter. I’ve always used mayonnaise.
“Cut the bananas in either two or three pieces and score them with the tines of a fork. I never knew why, maybe to help the dressing adhere.”