No-Sweat Summer: The must-have burgers, brats and beers for the perfect backyard cookout

A great burger starts with great meat. For a classic beef burger, Quincy Street Bistro chef de cuisine Chris Tirone advised keeping it simple. Start with 80-20 ground chuck, which is 80 percent lean chuck roast and 20 percent fat. Shape the meat into an 8-ounce, ½-inch-thick patty. Season both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill over medium-high, direct heat 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium. Slide it onto a bun, top to your heart’s content and bite into burger nirvana. – Kristin Schultz

Jerk this burger into high gear and season the meat, too. Re-create Sub Zero Vodka Bar’s Jamaican Jerk Burger by mixing together 2 pounds ground chuck, 2 cups chopped white onion, 6 tablespoons jerk seasoning, 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 teaspoon ground ginger until blended. Form patties and grill, then top with Jamaican Jerk Mango Salsa.

The cheese should stand alone atop your perfect patty. Here, three experts weigh in on a burger’s crowning glory.– Kristin Schultz

“I like a cheese with some funkiness to it, like a Swiss Lorraine or a sharp cheddar.” – Chris Tirone, chef de cuisine, Quincy Street Bistro

“Pimento cheese is my favorite cheese at the moment. It’s melty without being messy.” – Mathis Stitt, chef-owner, Veritas Gateway to Food and Wine

“Cheddar or Muenster stand out on top of the burger rather than covering it.” – Matt Galati, executive chef, The Dam


Area butchers have the perfect house-made bratwurst for every palate, from the pork purist to the adventurous diner who wants a taste of the islands or NOLA on a bun. – Georgia Kaye

1. Kenrick’s Meats & Catering
Stick to the tried-and-true beer-and-brat combo and toss the Schlafly pork bratwurst made with the brewery’s Hefeweizen in your basket. 4324 Weber Road, Affton, 314.631.2440,

2. Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions
Go crazy for the Berzerker at Bolyard’s, a beef sausage stuffed with bacon, cheddar and horseradish. 2810 Sutton Blvd., Maplewood, 314.647.2567,

3. Mateker’s Meat and Catering
Sugar and spice and everything nice; was the nursery rhyme actually referencing Mateker’s apple-cinnamon pork bratwurst? We think so. 11642 Concord Village Ave., Sappington, 314.842.4100,

4. Valenti’s Market & Catering
The jalepeno-cheddar pork bratwurst is a top-seller here, so follow your fellow brat buyers’ example. 6750 Mexico Road, St. Peters, 636.970.2992,

5. Todd Geisert Farms
You don’t need to book a Caribbean cruise to experience Jamaican jerk pork bratwursts. Pick up Todd Geisert’s creations at his Washington farm or in the city at Local Harvest Grocery.
Todd Geisert Farms, 4851 Old Highway 100, Washington, 314.791.6942,; Local Harvest Grocery, 3108 Morgan Ford Road, St. Louis, 314.865.5260,

6. Hanlen’s Fine Meats & Catering
Keep it classic with the best-selling original pork bratwurst, and you’ll be keeping it local, too. Pork is sourced from Illinois’ Wenneman Meat Market. 11037 Manchester Road, Kirkwood, 314.966.8606, Facebook: Hanlen’s Fine Meats & Catering

7. Frandeka Meat Market
Keep the Mardi Gras spirit alive year-round with the Soulard Hurricane pork bratwurst. Made with mild pork seasoning and Hurricane drink mix, it’s everything you love about NOLA’s fruity beverage, minus the alcohol. Soulard Farmers Market, 1601 S. Seventh St., St. Louis, 314.241.7743, Facebook: Frandeka Meat Market

8. John’s Butcher Shoppee
Play it safe with a cheddar-bacon bratwurst, or take a walk on the wild side; customers’ wacky flavor suggestions are welcome here. All styles can be made using ground pork, beef, chicken or turkey. 503 N. Mill St., Festus, 636.931.7776,


The Burger Bun: Fazio’s Brioche Bun
Well-suited for toasting, brioche stands up to the heat, the meat and the fixin’s. Freddie’s Market, 9052 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, 314.968.1914,

The Bratwurst Bun: Companion’s Original Bavarian Pretzel
A brat’s perfect match is a soft, chewy pretzel. Slice the stick lengthwise (but not all the way through) and nestle your brat inside. Companion, 8143 Maryland Ave., Clayton, 314.721.5454; 9781 Clayton Road, Ladue, 314.218.2280,

The Baked Beans: Bogart’s Pit Baked Beans
Sweet up front and spicy on the finish, these meaty beans smoke overnight underneath beef brisket, catching the delicious dripping juices. Bogart’s Smokehouse, 1627 S. Ninth St., St. Louis, 314.621.3107,

The Mustard: Truffles’ Butchery House Mustard
Holding its own against rich burger juices, this whole-grain mustard offers robust flavor and texture. Truffles’ Butchery, 9202 Clayton Road, Ladue, 314.567.9100,

The Ketchup: Heinz
“All others are imbalanced on the spices and taste like a spice cake, not ketchup,” said Chris Tirone, chef de cuisine at Quincy Street Bistro. Available at most major grocery stores

A backyard barbecue is only as good as the grill it’s cooked on. Here, the six essential tools you need to dominate outdoor cooking. – Catherine Klene

Weber Performer Deluxe 22-Inch Grill
Yes, the Big Green Egg is a griller’s dream, but you don’t need that ceramic work of art to make a masterful burger. This dependable classic Weber kettle features a propane-fired ignition that lights charcoal with the push of a button (the only acceptable time to use gas). $400. Terra, 11769 Manchester Road, Des Peres, 314.966.0800,

Timber Charcoal
This southern Missouri company creates lump hardwood charcoal, primarily from Ozark oak and hickory, for long-lasting, consistent heat that no briquette can match. 20-pound bag: $20. St. Louis BBQ Store, 9703 Gravois Road, St. Louis, 314.200.5350,

Big Green Egg Electric Charcoal Lighter
Drop the lighter fluid and back away slowly. Stack your coals around this electric coil, plug it in and get cooking in just a few minutes without the nasty chemical residue. $40. Hearthside Grill & Fireplace, 418 S. Belt East, Belleville, 618.257.0700,

Charcoal Chimney
There’s nothing wrong with old school. Stuff some newspaper in the bottom of a charcoal chimney, place it on the grill, fill it with coals, strike a match, and you’ve got wicked hot embers in no time. $10. Edele & Mertz Hardware, 1822 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314.421.2131, Facebook: Edele & Mertz Hardware

Grill Spatula
A wide stainless-steel spatula means you won’t drop your precious patty, and an insulated 18-inch wooden handle means you won’t singe your arm hair, either. $13. Cornucopia, 107 N. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood, 314.822.2440,

Outset Rosewood Grill Tongs
These 21-inch, extra-long tongs allow you to deftly turn brats without puncturing the skin and losing those delicious juices. $17. Kitchen Conservatory, 8021 Clayton Road, Clayton, 314.862.2665,

Jamaican Jerk Burger
Perfect Patty + Jerk Seasoning + Mango Salsa

Veritas Burger
Perfect Patty + Pimento Cheese + Quick Pickles + Pickled Onions + Onion Jam

BBQ'd Bacon Cheddar
Perfect Patty + Smoked Cheddar + Bourbon Barbecue Sauce + Bacon-Red Onion Jam



Jamaican Jerk Mango Salsa
Courtesy of Sub Zero Vodka Bar’s Lucas Gamlin

4 servings

1 red onion, diced small
1 red bell pepper, diced small
2 habanero peppers, seeded and diced
3 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 tsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. dark rum
3 fresh mangoes, peeled, pit removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• In a large saute pan over high heat, saute the red onion, bell pepper, habanero peppers, ginger and thyme in the oil, about 1 minute.
• Reduce the heat to medium-high and deglaze the pan with the rum, scraping the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
• In a large bowl, mix the cooled pepper mixture with the mango, lime juice, salt and pepper.

Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
Courtesy of Quincy Street Bistro’s Chris Tirone

1 quart

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 cup red wine vinegar
¹∕³ cup water
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. whole-grain mustard
1 Tbsp. mustard powder
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. bourbon
1¹∕³ tsp. kosher salt
1¹∕³ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Dash hot sauce
• In a large saucepan over medium heat, simmer all the ingredients 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Bacon-Red Onion Jam
Courtesy of Quincy Street Bistro’s Chris Tirone

1 quart

1¹∕³ cup diced bacon
1¹∕³ cup julienned red onion
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. dry red wine
4 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• In a large saute pan over medium-low heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally until crisp, about 15 minutes.
• Add the onion to the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes.
• Add the wine, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine, then reduce the mixture until thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Quick Pickles
Courtesy of Veritas Gateway to Food and Wine’s Mathis Stitt

1 cup

1 large cucumber, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt

• Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Let rest 20 minutes until the cucumber releases its juices.
• Remove the cucumber slices with a slotted spoon; discard the remaining liquid.

Pickled Onions
Courtesy of Veritas Gateway to Food and Wine’s Mathis Stitt

1 quart

2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 oz. juniper berries
3 sprigs thyme
4 large red onions, thinly sliced
• In a medium saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar, juniper berries and thyme to a boil over high heat to make a brine.
• Place the onions in a bowl and pour the hot brine over it. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool to room temperature. Transfer the onions and brine to an airtight container and refrigerate until chilled.

Onion Jam
Courtesy of Veritas Gateway to Food and Wine’s Mathis Stitt

1 pint

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 to 5 white onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp. kosher salt
²∕³ cup brown sugar
¹∕³ cup apple cider vinegar

• In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and caramelize until light brown, 45 to 60 minutes.
• Add the brown sugar and vinegar and stir until incorporated. Let cool.

Oven-dried Tomatoes
Courtesy of Veritas Gateway to Food and Wine’s Mathis Stitt

1 quart

4 lbs. Roma tomatoes, quartered
6 cloves garlic, sliced
6 sprigs fresh thyme
¼ cup olive oil
Kosher salt to taste

• In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients until the tomatoes are evenly coated. Cover and let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
• Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place a baking rack on top of a baking sheet, making sure there is space between them.
• Place the tomato wedges skin-side up in a single layer on the baking rack. Bake 2½ to 4 hours, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the tomatoes are soft and the skin is easily removed.
• Use your fingers to gently remove the skins and discard. Let the tomatoes cool.

Pimento Cheese

½ lb. sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
½ lb. medium yellow cheddar cheese, grated
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup chopped roasted red pepper
1 to 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

• In a large bowl, mix the white and yellow cheddar cheeses and the cream cheese until combined. Add the roasted red pepper and the mayonnaise and stir to create a chunky spread.


French Potato Salad
Courtesy of Nadoz Cafe & Catering’s Kathy Becker

10 servings
2½ lbs. red potatoes, diced
2½ Tbsp. kosher salt, divided
½ red pepper, diced small
1 cup celery, chopped
4 cups mayonnaise
½ cup whole-grain mustard
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• Fill a large pot with cold water. Add the potatoes and 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil until tender, about 15 minutes.
• Prepare an ice bath, then drain the potatoes and shock them in the ice bath. When cool, drain and set aside.
• In a large mixing bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients to make a dressing.
• Add the potatoes to the dressing, stirring to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 24 hours.

Courtesy of Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co.’s Kevin Nashan

6 servings

6 ears corn, shucked
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 red bell peppers, diced small
2 green bell peppers, diced small
2 yellow bell peppers, diced small
1 red onion, diced small
2 cups fresh lima, fava or soy beans
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. coriander
¹∕³ tsp. ground caraway
Pinch ground mace
Pinch ground fenugreek
1 tsp. chiffonade fresh mint
1½ Tbsp. tomato paste
½ chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
¹∕³ cup rice wine vinegar
¹∕³ cup water

• Slice the corn from the cob; discard the cobs.
• In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, saute the corn in 1 tablespoon olive oil until light brown, about 3 minutes. Spread on a sheet pan and refrigerate until cool.
• In the same pan, saute the bell peppers over medium-high heat in 1 tablespoon olive oil until just softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Spread on a sheet pan and refrigerate until cool.
• In the same pan, saute the onion over high heat in 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook another 5 to 6 minutes, until soft. Spread on a sheet pan and refrigerate until cool.
• Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil over high heat. Blanch the beans until tender, 1 to 3 minutes. Prepare an ice bath, then drain the beans and shock them in the ice bath. When cool, drain and set aside.
• Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway, mace, fenugreek, mint, tomato paste, chipotle pepper and vinegar on high speed. With the machine running, slowly add the remaining olive oil until emulsified. With the machine still running, slowly thin the dressing with water until it coats the back of a spoon.
• Place the beans in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooled corn, bell peppers and onions. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Serve at room temperature.

Sweet and Tangy Coleslaw
Courtesy of Table Three’s Jodie Ferguson

8 servings

4 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
½ cup sugar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 tsp. celery seed
½ tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup canola oil
Thinly sliced green or red onions, for garnish (optional)

• In a large bowl, toss together the green cabbage, red cabbage and carrot. Set aside.
• In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar and vinegar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the mustard, celery seed, salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil, until just combined.
• Pour the dressing over the cabbage and carrots. Toss to coat, then refrigerate 30 minutes.
• Garnish with the green or red onions, if desired. Serve cold or at room temperature.

T3 Street Corn
Courtesy of Table Three’s Jodie Ferguson

4 servings

5 ears corn, shucked
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. coriander
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
1 poblano pepper
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. canola oil, divided
1 tsp. minced garlic
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of ½ lemon
Kosher salt, to taste
Sour cream or mayonnaise, for garnish (optional)
Sliced green onions, for garnish (optional)

• Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the corn and cook 1 minute. Remove and pat dry.
• Make a spice rub by combining the chili powder, coriander, cumin, pepper and cayenne in a small bowl.
• Coat the corn and poblano pepper with 2 tablespoons oil and the spice rub.
• Prepare a charcoal grill for high, direct heat or a gas grill for high heat.
• Grill the corn, rotating a quarter turn every 1½ minutes, until slightly charred on all sides. Grill the poblano, rotating a quarter turn every 3 minutes, until charred on all sides. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
• Slice the kernels from the cob and place in a large mixing bowl; discard the cobs. Stem and seed the poblano, then julienne and add it to the bowl. Toss with the garlic, lime juice, lemon juice, the remaining 1 teaspoon canola oil and salt to taste. Garnish with the sour cream or mayonnaise and green onion, if desired.