It’s the time of year when feasting is customary. So I think it’s an appropriate time to disclose a Northeastern Oklahoma hidden treasure that will lead you to even more feasting than what you’ll likely find at your holiday family spreads.
Chouteau, Oklahoma is home to a large Amish community, and these folks are kind enough to share their delicious, home-cooked food with the rest of us. I have always been fascinated by Amish culture, but until recently, had never explored Oklahoma’s “Amish country.” On a recent November evening, my husband and I ventured out to Fannie’s Country Cookin’ in Chouteau, a.k.a. the home of Earl and Lisa Miller, in hopes of experiencing a genuine Amish dinner. Our hopes were not only met, but far surpassed.
Most of us know as much about the Amish as what we’ve seen on TV shows or movies, as evidenced by my dear husband. As we were traveling the one hour route from Tulsa to Chouteau, he innocently asked, “Does this place have electricity?” Yes, it’s true that hard-core Amish homes do not have electricity, but for the sake of functioning a restaurant, the Millers do have electricity and heat/AC. “Do we have to use an outhouse?” was naturally Devon’s next question. No! Thank God; they have indoor toilets, complete with flushing capabilities!
As we approached the Millers’ home, we were amazed at how dark and serene the countryside was. For a couple of miles, we could see absolutely no lights in any direction. Finally, after winding down a gravel road for a mile or so, we spotted a brilliantly white house on top of a hill. We pulled in to see dozens of people piling into the home, anxious for some country cookin’.
When a coworker told me about the Millers’ house a couple years ago, I imagined they could feed maybe 20 people on any given night. Boy, was I wrong. The house is filled with table after table, probably enough to seat 100 people comfortably. So if you want to take your whole family or group of friends, they can accommodate you.
Within just a few minutes of being seated, sweet Amish ladies with white caps on their heads started carrying plate after plate of food to our table. It started with veggies, like coleslaw and green beans. I was hesitant to even try the coleslaw, because I’m not much of a slaw eater. But this coleslaw was out of this world! The veggies were so fresh, and it was much lighter than any coleslaw I’ve ever tried; definitely not mayonnaise-based.
The ladies also brought out bowls full of chicken noodle soup, stuffing (or dressing, whichever term you prefer!), the creamiest, softest mashed potatoes I’ve ever tasted, and of course, gravy. Is this starting to sound like Thanksgiving dinner to you? Well, it’s not. IT’S BETTER. Why, you may ask? Because all of the ingredients are homemade. Everything from the soft, warm, yeast rolls with decadent apple butter, to the thick, wholesome noodles used in the chicken noodle soup, is made fresh right at the Millers’. The freshness and quality really make a huge difference.
Our favorite part of the meal was definitely the meat. For dinner, guests can choose one meat or two, with these four meats to choose from: ham, turkey, oven-fried chicken and roast beef. We selected the chicken and roast beef. I honestly believe that the chicken was quite possibly the best chicken I’ve ever tasted: lightly breaded and oh-so-tender on the inside.
With all of these amazing foods to choose from, Devon and I tried our best to eat slowly. Some pretty hilarious conversation ensued over the course of the meal, such as Devon saying, “It’s hard to know what I want to eat next. I just go where the fork is closest;” and, “I’m about to seriously unbutton my pants.” I also remarked several times that I wish I could cook like the Amish ladies. We jokingly decided that perhaps I could become Amish for two to three months just so the ladies could teach me their cooking skills, and then “break Amish.”
I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention dessert. One of those nice Amish ladies set an entire chocolate pie in front of us, and told us it was ours! Yes, an entire pie. The Millers offer a whopping 16 incredible pie choices: Apple, Apricot, Banana, Blueberry, Butterscotch, Cherry, Chocolate, Coconut Cream, Egg Custard, Lemon Meringue, Orange Supreme, Peanut Butter, Pecan, Pumpkin, Rhubarb and Strawberry. Our pie was nicely complemented by piping hot cups of coffee.
Believe it or not, this entire feast of food comes at a very low cost. A one-meat dinner is only $12.50 per person, while a two-meat dinner is $14.25. What a steal! I don’t know anywhere else where you can get such a vast quantity of quality food for such a low cost.
Oh, and if you’re smart like us, you’ll take a piece of Amish country home with you. The Millers have a small “grocery” area, where you can shop for dry noodles, quilts, cookbooks, jams, and butters. For $4, we bought a jar of Apple Butter, which has been gracing our breads with its yumminess over the last couple weeks.
If by this time your mouth is watering and you’re trying to Mapquest the closest route to Chouteau, be forewarned that you must plan a visit to the Millers’ house. It is someone’s house, after all. Fannie’s Contry Cookin’ is open for meals during both lunch and dinner, but be sure to call Lisa at 918-476-7891 to schedule your meal. Also, while you’re planning your trip, you should know that the Millers offer carriage rides! We’re looking forward to taking a large group of friends along on our next trip for a huge meal and after-dinner carriage rides!