The Vadenais Family Dressing

A treasured recipe for your holiday feast

One of my dearest friends, from high school and college days, is Mary Vadenais Dexter, whose parents were in the fish-and-chips business. In fact, they made the best fish-and-chips in the area. That recipe, I’m afraid, is long gone, but “Mom’s Famous Family Dressing” is still with us.
The Vadenais family makes it in a variety of guises—as an accompaniment for turkey, a stand-alone meat dish, the filling for a French-Canadian meat pie, or as the bottom layer of port-de-chinois, the French-Canadian version of shepherd’s pie. This recipe makes enough to serve a holiday crowd, but if you cut the recipe in half, you’ll still have enough dressing for 12 people. If desired, leftover boiled or mashed potatoes can be added to the dressing to make it go further.


  • 4 large onions
  • 1/2 package celery
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 4 1/2 pounds ground veal
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 (12-ounce) package mild breakfast sausage
  • 1 package seasoned stuffing mix
  • 1 cup, or more, chicken broth
  • Ground sage, to taste

Using an old-fashioned hand-turned grinder, if possible (otherwise mince these ingredients as finely as possible), grind the onions and celery. In a very large black cast-iron frying pan, heat the butter and oil together, and sauté the onions and celery until soft. Transfer the cooked onions and celery to a bowl and set aside.

In the same frying pan, sauté all four of the meat ingredients—this may have to be done in batches.

Combine the sautéed meat with the onion and celery mixture, the stuffing mix, and enough chicken stock to make a moist consistency. Add a pinch of sage, or more to taste.

Move the entire mixture into a large Crock-pot to keep warm for at least 30 minutes, then serve. Or it can be made in advance and reheated at mealtime.

Makes 24 servings.

This recipe comes from the Providence and Rhode Island Cookbook, which is available in local bookstores and gift shops as well as on Or contact Linda for an autographed copy by e-mail at

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