Willkommen to Frankenmuth… a sign, stating this message, greets visitors upon entering this small town. It is located in the mid-section of the lower peninsula of Michigan. Frankenmuth is known as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria” and is rich in German history.
Frankenmuth has much to offer it’s visitors… dining, shopping, a brewery, entertainment, German culture and… Are your ready for it?… The world’s largest Christmas store. That’s right, Frankenmuth is home to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, billed as the worlds L A R G E S T Christmas Store. It measures 1½ football fields in size and offers over 50,000+ items of the gift and holiday trim type. This time of year, it is a mad-house. Crazy crowded, kind of mad-house. Personally, I won’t set foot in there after Halloween (too many people tend to bring out my Grinch side). February through October is just fine with me!
We venture to Frankenmuth at least yearly. And surprise, surprise… it’s the food that inspires to make the 45 minute drive. There are many restaurants to choose from in the town, but for most visitors the destination is one of two “main” restaurants, Zehnder’s or The Bavarian Inn. They are essentially the same, menu-wise, and were founded by members of the same family (the Zehnder’s). Both restaurants are known for their all-you-can-eat, family style, chicken dinners. Course, after glorious course of food. Stollen bread, fruit preserves, a variety of salads, golden (aka, fried) chicken, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, hot veggies, and the highlight of the meal (for our family) the hot buttered noodles. They are OMG delicious!
Duplicating these addicting noodles at home has been a decades long project of mine. It sounds simple enough… buttered noodles. But it wasn’t. They never tasted as good as the restaurant version. Oma (grandma) Dorothy Zehnder even shares “The Recipe” on the website. Let me just say… that sneaky Oma is leaving out something. Like butter… there’s no mention of buttering the noodles in her recipe… I have her number, she can’t fool me!
Shops in the restaurants will gladly sell you bags of their noodles. In addition, most grocery stores in our area sell the same type of noodles. Thick egg noodles, or kluski, is what one needs. Note: these are “thick” noodles… not “wide”. Using Oma Dorothy’s recipe as the “base”, and through much trial and error, I’ve figured out a recipe/procedure that satisfies the buttered noodle monsters in our house.
Frankenmuth Hot Buttered Noodles
Ingredients for Noodles:
8 ounces medium egg noodles, thick or kluski
2 quarts chicken broth
1½ teaspoons poultry seasoning (instant bouillon is fine)
pinch of pepper
Ingredients for Topping:
1 cup crushed saltine crackers (crumbs)
2 Tablespoons butter
Ingredients for Butter Sauce:
1/4 cup chicken broth
4 Tablespoons butter
Heat the chicken broth, poultry seasoning and pepper to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles. Cook according to package ingredients (normally 15-20 minutes for thick noodles).
While the noodles are cooking, make the topping and sauce.
For the topping: In a skillet, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Stir in the cracker crumbs to coat with the melted butter. Saute until light brown, stirring often. Remove from heat and side aside for serving.
For the sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the 4 tablespoons of butter and the 1/4 cup of chicken broth. Heat over low heat. Keep warm.
To Serve: Drain the noodles and transfer to a serving bowl. Pour the hot broth/butter mixture over the noodles. Stir well. Top the noodles with desired amount of browned cracker crumbs; serve additional topping on the side. Note: Noodles will initially be slightly “soupy”, but will absorb the additional liquid as they sit.