Brown Butter Polonaise Sauce

published Apr 2, 2023
Polonaise Sauce Recipe

This sauce adds a look of elegance, a buttery crunch, eggy richness, and brightness (both from the lemon and herbs) to any dish it’s added to.

Serves4

Makes1 cup

Prep10 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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veggies a la polanais
Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

My Polish American grandparents were keen gardeners. They turned their quarter-acre backyard into a vegetable garden that kept my whole family loaded up with fresh vegetables for six months out of the year. Because of this, my grandma knew endless ways to dress up fresh vegetables that kept us coming back for more. 

One of my favorites: her recipe for herby browned butter breadcrumb sauce (although it’s really more of a garnish), which she scattered on top of any cooked vegetable. To make it, she’d transform stale bread into fresh breadcrumbs; fry them in lots of brown butter until golden-brown and crispy; mix in fresh herbs like dill, parsley, or sorrel, and a little lemon zest; and fold in chopped boiled egg. It always made an appearance just after Easter, when we had lots of hard-boiled Easter eggs to use up and the first asparagus and peas had been harvested.  

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer; Food Styling: Jessie YuChen

Later on at culinary school, I learned the term à la Polonaise, or “Polish-style,” to refer to this very “sauce.” Although they called the browned butter, beurre noisette (its French counterpart), and pushed the boiled egg through a mesh strainer (which made it look more fancy), it was the same thing my grandmother made us — it just had a fancy French name. 

Whatever the name, this is one of the easiest and most frugal ways to turn any cooked vegetable dish into a showstopper. It adds an elegant look, a buttery crunch, eggy richness, and brightness (both from the lemon and herbs) to any dish it’s added to. I love it so much that I’ve gone beyond veggies and now use it to zhuzh up broiled fish, pierogies, and even bowls of spaghetti, although my favorite version will always be served with spring’s first asparagus. 

If You’re Making Polonaise Sauce, a Few Tips

  • Feel free to use another bread. White breadcrumbs are traditional, but whole-wheat, rye, or gluten-free breadcrumbs can be substituted. I do not recommend panko breadcrumbs, which are too gritty for this recipe. 
  • Reach for the right mesh strainer. To sieve the hard-boiled egg, use an older, wider mesh strainer (a fine strainer will turn the egg into mush). If you don’t have the right kind of strainer, you can finely chop the egg or push it through a ricer.  

Polonaise Sauce Recipe

This sauce adds a look of elegance, a buttery crunch, eggy richness, and brightness (both from the lemon and herbs) to any dish it’s added to.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Makes 1 cup

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    large hard-boiled egg

  • 2 tablespoons

    finely chopped fresh parsley, dill, or sorrel leaves

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 1 slice

    stale white sandwich bread

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Peel 1 large hard-boiled egg and rinse to remove all shell fragments. Finely chop the egg or push it through a coarse-mesh strainer; place in a medium bowl. Finely chop until you have 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, dill or sorrel leaves. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon until you have 1 teaspoon.

  2. Tear 1 slice white sandwich bread into large bite-size pieces. Place in a mini food processor and pulse until reduced to fine crumbs (a few larger bits are fine and will add varying texture). Alternatively, chop into very small pieces about the size of a peppercorn.

  3. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sizzling subsides and the butter begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until crisp and deep golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat as needed so that the breadcrumbs do not burn.

  4. Remove from the pan from the heat. Add the herb and lemon zest and stir to combine. Scrape the mixture into a bowl with the egg and gently stir to combine. Season with salt if desired. Serve immediately on cooked vegetables, fish, or pasta, preferably well seasoned and tossed with lemon juice.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: White breadcrumbs are traditional, but whole wheat, rye, or gluten free breadcrumbs can be substituted. I do not recommend panko breadcrumbs, as they’re too gritty for this recipe.

Storage: This recipe is best used immediately. However, leftover breadcrumb mixture, without the egg stirred in, can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat in a dry sauté pan over low heat until warmed, then stir in the egg.