Leon's Top Secret Turkey Dressing Recipe**

I’ve decided to spill the beans and post my updated Top Secret Turkey Dressing Recipe.** I guess since I’m Polish, this makes it a Polish Turkey Dressing Recipe. The key secret ingredient is quiet Polish: Vegeta!

There is no right or wrong to this recipe.  The key is to TASTE it as you go along:

  • Fry 1 pound pork sausage until browned.  Drain on paper towels and allow to cool. When cool, process in food processor until fine. I like to use Jimmy Dean Sage Sausage. Set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter (butter lovers can double this amount if they wish)
  • Slice and dice 2 or three large yellow onions.  Add to melted butter and fry over medium heat for a few minutes.
  • Slice 3 or 4 stalks celery.  Add to onion/butter mixture.
  • Add 12 oz. of fresh sliced mushrooms (you can use canned if if desired…but why?).
  • Continue to saute several more minutes until onions are transparent and celery softens a bit and mushrooms have lost their moisture.
  • Add a teaspoon or two of Vegeta (or salt if you don’t have Vegeta).
  • Add a nice sized bunch of fresh Sage, julienned (or about a teaspoon of dried sage).
  • Add about a half teaspoon of poultry seasoning.
  • Add fresh ground black pepper to taste.
  • Add about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper–just a touch to give it some interest.
  • Stir well. Taste.  Add seasoning as needed.
  • Put this mixture in a LARGE bowl. 
  • Add sausage mixture to the above sauteed veggies.
  • Stir the mixture and check for seasoning.  It should be a little on the “not salty” side, as the chicken broth may add a lot of salt, too.
  • Add about a pound of stale bread crumbs (I used to make my own bread, but now buy a loaf of Pepperidge Farm Hearty white bread. Cube it and dry it about 1/2 hour in a 250-degree oven).  If you buy seasoned bread crumbs, you may have to adjust the seasoning, but I consider this cheating.
  • Gently mix the mixture in a large (large, large, large) bowl.  Luckily, I have a humongous bowl that my sister, Mary, gave me years ago.
  • The mixture will be quite dry yet. 
  • If desired, you can add other accouterments, but be careful to not add too many.  For example, maybe leave out the mushrooms and add one or more of the following:
    • dried cranberries
    • raisins
    • pecans
    • hazelnuts
    • walnuts
    • shredded carrots
    • apples
    • mushrooms (ok, you can add them back in if you wish)
    • be imaginative…..
  • When mixed, it’s time to add some liquid:
  • beat one or two eggs and add. Mix well.
  • If desired, you can add a cup of milk or half and half to add some richness, but this is optional.
  • Add about a quart of chicken broth.  I generally make my own chicken or turkey broth and prefer to use that. You can also use chicken base to make your own broth.  Be careful of canned chicken broth–it can be very salty. Best is to make your own ahead of time.
  • Add liquid until the mixture becomes rather gooey.
  • Turn into a greased 3 or 4 quart baking pan. 
  • Cover or cover loosely with foil, and bake until hot. 
  • You can bake this in any temperature oven,  since all the ingredients except the egg are already cooked, all you need to do is heat it and get it to set a bit. I’d recommend about 350 degrees for 45 minutes should be just about right.  If you want a bit of the crust, cook it uncovered the last 15 or 20 minutes.

That’s it.  Pretty simple, huh?  All it takes is some time and a bit of imagination.  Serve as an accompaniment to Turkey or Chicken, or as a substitute for mashed potatoes….or…. hell…. it even makes a great meal by itself (though a wee bit of gravy over the top sure is nice, too).  This recipe does not last long in our house.  Hope you enjoy!

*This recipe is based on Mom Konieczny’s Turkey Dressing: she deserves the credit, she taught me how to cook, and to love to cook!

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