Chef Kevin Hermann’s Tips for Successful Summer Grilling

You know your Dad would love nothing better than seeing his family around the table and diving into a summertime menu of grilled food for Father’s Day. We’ve got just the ticket: a dinner planned by Chef Kevin Hermann of Wild Woods Catering, complete with grilling tips and tricks to try all season long, and some ideas for local, farm-fresh ingredient sources.

Tips for Summer Grilling

Whether you are using propane, charcoal, hardwood lump charcoal, or your favorite hardwood, don’t be afraid to mix things up and find the right method for you. I prefer to use a mixture of hardwood lump charcoal and apple or peach wood. The wood gives a sweet delicate flavor while the charcoal burns with the right heat. My preferred cut of beef is a 32-ounce Certified Angus beef tomahawk steak. This is a beast of a steak, but don’t let that scare you off. The end result is the game-changer.  

Various grilled sausages sit on a silver sheet pan with small plates and a beer glass sitting around the sheet pan.

Burger Time EVERYTIME!

Everyone has a friend who swears by the burgers they make. I am one of those guys. Is it the beef? The patty method? The grill? Try these simple tips:  

  1. Be picky about what meat you select: I use a blend of 50/50 Certified Angus beef brisket and chuck for all my burgers because of its optimal 10/20 meat-to-fat ratio. Reach out to local farms such as Old Time Farm, Blackberry Meadows, and Barberry Farm for not just ground meats but other cuts as well.  
  2. Gently roll an 8-ounce ball of ground meat in your hands like a baseball. Massage it into a uniform ball and place it on the sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Press it out evenly to ½-inch thickness. Cover and refrigerate till cooking time. 
  3. When you’re ready, season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Cook on the grill, approximately 4-5 minutes on each side. Rotate each to create those hash marks.
  4. Allow the burgers to rest 5-10 minutes before serving. Add toppings as desired and enjoy! 

A plate holds two ears of corn from off the grill with seasonings and cheese sprinkled on top.

How to Grill the Best Corn on the Cob and Fresh Vegetables 

Grilling fresh corn with the husk on is the best. While charring on the outside, the corn steams on the inside. Once the corn is cooked, let it cool slightly before peeling away the husk. Return the corn to the grill if you desire some grill marks. If not, just slather it with butter, a pinch of salt, and a squeeze of lime. McElhinney Farm does a great job with corn, as do Soergel’s, Triple B, and Tiny Seed 

Asparagus on a blue plate with slices of lemons nearby plus a plate of grilled corn and a beer nearby as well.

While your corn is resting, throw some veggies on the grill. Cut them at least ½-inch thickness. Season a very light drizzle of oil, salt, and pepper. Cook with the grill covered, but don’t wander:  they will be done quickly. Turn after a few minutes or once you have nice grill marks. Pull them from the grill and place on a platter. Season with a pinch of salt, drizzle of olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon. Most farms in the region will be offering an array of fresh veggies. You’re just a farm stand or farmers’ market away from fresh-veggie perfection.  

Cooking Kabobs on the Grill 

Four kabob sticks sit on a blue plate against a blue table cloth with a plate of asparagus, beer, and fork nearby.

Metal or wooden skewers? Which is better? Dealer’s choice is my answer, however be sure to soak wood skewers in water for 30 minutes prior to assembling your kabobs. Make sure veggies and meats are cut the same size for even cooking. Season assembled skewers with kosher salt, crushed black pepper, rosemary, and chopped parsley. Grill over medium heat and rotate through the cooking process. If the food chars up too fast, place the skewers on a piece of foil on your grill as a buffer. To make your kabobs fresh and local, try Freedom Farms for beef, pork, or chicken.  

Chef Kevin’s Cheddar Cornbread 

A plate of stacked cheddar cornbread sits beside a plate of butter slices and knives with jalapeños scattered throughout.

Is it a BBQ without fresh cornbread? My recipe is fluffy, sweetly flavorful, and rich with butter. It takes very little time to make, and you can bake it ahead of the meal. Keep it local with Weatherbury Farm’s cornmeal. It’s milled from Wapsie Valley open-pollinated corn, a mid-19th century variety famous for its gorgeous yellow color, and its wonderful flavor and texture. Polenta milled from the same grain is available, too. Marburger Farm Dairy is a good source for local buttermilk, another key ingredient.   

Story by Chef Kevin Hermann / Styling by Keith Recker / Photography by Laura Petrilla 

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