à la Polonaise

Polish Style

I was well into my 20s before I realised that there was a special French culinary phrase to describe, what to me, was just the regular topping that my mother and aunties put onto certain cooked vegetables.

Within my family I had never been served cauliflower, Brussels sprouts  or whole green beans without a lovely crispy buttery breadcrumb mixture.

I have not discovered when this term was first used in France but some sources think it might have come into use in the early part of the 19th century when many Polish political émigrés came to France and in particular Paris.

Method for the Vegetables

Cook your cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or whole green bean in whatever way you like best.

You can if you wish cook the cauliflower whole – this can have quite a good effect when served.

I like to steam the vegetables as I find I can get them just right – cooked – but still with a bit of bite this way.

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Steamed Brussels Sprouts

Place the cooked (and drained if necessary) vegetables in a serving dish.

Pour the buttery topping over the vegetables.

You will get a buttery crunchy taste which is a contrast to the vegetables.

Method for the  à la Polonaise topping

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Butter & Breadcrumbs
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Preparing the Breadcrumbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The topping is made by melting in a saucepan 2 to 3 tablespoonfuls of butter.

(If you use unsalted butter then add a pinch or two of salt)

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Melting the Butter

 

 

 

 

 

Add to this around 2 tablespoonfuls of dried breadcrumbs and keep on the heat and stir for a few minutes.

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Preparing the Breadcrumbs
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Butter & Breadcrumbs

 

 

 

 

 

Pour the buttery mix over the vegetables.

Cauliflower à la Polonaise – served in a Royal Doulton serving dish. The pattern is Carnation produced from 1982 to 1998.

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Brussels Sprouts à la Polonaise – served in a Royal Doulton serving dish. The pattern is Roundelay produced from 1970 to 1997.

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Royal Doulton – Roundelay

Whole green beans à la Polonaise

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Added Note

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Some cookery books say that chopped hard boiled eggs and chopped flat leaf parsley are added to the topping.

Personally I have not found this to be usually so, although chopped hard boiled eggs are added to many salads and to certain soups in Poland and chopped flat leafed parsley is very often used as a garnish.

Breadcrumbs – Bułka tarta

Breadcrumbs are needed for many recipes in Polish cookery and especially in the topping à la Polonaise.

So I always make sure I have some in my store cupboard.

Bułka tarta is usually translated as breadcrumbs  –  they are the  dried and then ground or grated crumbs from white rolls (bułka is a bread roll) or white (wheat) bread.

Bread in Poland is normally made from rye flour or a mixture of rye and wheat flour.  White bread and rolls were viewed as a luxury in days gone by.

I usually make my own breadcrumbs as in the past the ones you could buy in England were often dyed orange and I did not like them at all.

Nowadays there are many Polish shops and Polish bakeries that sell these dried breadcrumbs.

I have used them and they are good.

If you want to buy them then

Bułka tarta

is what you are looking for – usually sold in 500g bags.

I still make my own as they are a good use of any type of white bread you have left over and the crumbs keep for ages in an airtight box.

Making Breadcrumbs

You need white (wheat) bread – either slices from a loaf or bread rolls – cut in half.

Put your oven on its lowest setting – on mine this is GM1

You can put the slices of bread directly on the oven shelves or you can use a silicone mesh sheet which is good as the moisture which come off the bread does not condense under the bread and it is easier to remove the dried bread from the oven when it is ready.

Leave the bread in the oven for an hour or more – it wants to be a golden brown.

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Lightly Dried Bread – It can be a darker brown if desired

Put the dried bread on a chopping board and use a rolling pin to crush it.

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I store my breadcrumbs in an airtight plastic box – I use  Sistema™ boxes which are made in New Zealand.

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