Ladue Lips

Chef John Johnson

Q: Chef John, it’s almost summer and the Cardinals are playing again. Whenever we don’t make it to the stadium, we are in the back yard grilling and watching the game. I was wondering if you had any ideas for something that would really set our backyard party off this summer. What do you think? Are you up for a challenge?

A: Well, I’d like to quote one of my favorite players of the game. “Go Cards or go home!” I have the perfect recipe for you to serve at you next cookout. It takes a little prep time, but by the end of the season, you and your grill will be in first place. Put two hometown heroes like the great American burger and toasted ravs in red, and what do you have?


THE CARDINAL BUN (makes 8 buns)

1 c water

3 T warm milk

2 t active dry yeast

2 1/2 T sugar

1 large egg

1/8 t red food coloring

3 c bread flour

1/3 c all-purpose flour

1 1/2 t salt

2 1/2 /t unsalted butter, softened

DIRECTIONS: Make your buns the day before for best results. Combine warm water, milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. While you are waiting, beat the egg. In a large bowl, whisk flours with salt. Add softened butter, using your fingers to rub butter into flour until it turns into crumbs. Fold in yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Pour dough onto well-floured counter and knead until smooth and elastic. This should take about 10 minutes. The dough will be a little sticky. Try not to add additional flour, because it will create a tougher bun. Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, one to two hours. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a dough scraper, divide the dough into eight equal parts. Roll each into a ball. Place on baking sheet 3 inches apart. Spray with a nonstick spray and cover with plastic. Place in a warm place for one to two hours, so the buns are allowed to rise.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a large shallow pan of water in the bottom of the oven. Bake about 15 minutes, turning sheet pan halfway through the baking process. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

The Line Up:

1 Cardinal red bun

1 T butter

1 8 oz. grilled hamburger, seasoned with salt and pepper

1 slice cheddar cheese, melted on burger

1/4 c shredded lettuce

1 T pickle juice

1 slice red tomato

1 slice red onion

3 toasted raviolis


Start by buttering the bun and toasting on the grill. Toss the shredded lettuce in the pickle juice and place on bottom of bun. Add a slice of tomato, a slice of onion and the grilled burger with melted cheddar cheese. Add the top bun and top with three fried raviolis. Chef John Johnson is River City Casino executive chef.

Do you have a recipe request for Chef John? Email him at