Central MN: St. Joseph Meat Market (St. Joseph)
Driven by curiousity generated by the "funeral hotdish in a smoked brat" on display in the meat case at the State Fair (in the Dairy Building next to the butterheads--see link to photo below), we headed to St. Joseph Meat Market (in the town of St. Joseph, which is one exit West of St. Cloud on I94.) http://www.chowhound.com/photos/68925
Oh, boy were my expectations exceeded. First, there is a meat counter with several butchers--but, we never made it to the counter because the call of the freezer case sirens was too strong. "Funeral hotdish brat" was just the beginning: there were "taco brats" (with Mexican cheese and spices), "pizza style brats" (with mozzarella cheese and Italian spices), philly steak and cheese brats (with provolone cheese), wild rice and blueberry brats, pineapple brats...and so on. I think all the brats came either fresh or frozen. We picked up a couple of fresh sloppy joe brats (pork with tomato puree and paprika) to grill at home, and while I wouldn't eat one of these every day, they were remarkably reminiscint of sloppy joes.
We now regret not picking up some porketta while we were there. I also notice that their maple breakfast links were "Grand National Champions..." which competition, I do not know, but it sounds impressive.
We have the funeral hotdish fresh brats in the freezer. I'll report back on those later, but this place is a fun stop if you are passing through. About an hour an a half out of the Twin Cities.
St. Joseph Meat Market
26 1st Ave NW, St Joseph, MN 56374
Here's a link to a photo of the St. Joseph funeral hotdish brat we saw at the State Fair.
Here's a link to my comments about the funeral hotdish brat--in a nutshell, tasty, but it didn't wow me like the sloppy joe brat did. The sloppy joe brat really reminded me of the flavors in a sloppy joe... I can't say I've eaten a lot of funeral hotdish, but the funeral hotdish brat tasted more or less like a good sausage to me, though, quite peppery. There were noodles in the brat, which gave it an interesting texture.
I made similar comments in the State Fair thread, here: