Award-winning Cookbook Author and SMC Professor Shares Grilling Tips

Denis Kelly '60, winner of both the Julia Child and James Beard cookbook awards and an Integral tutor at Saint Mary's College, shared barbecuing tips with staff members on Wednesday after confiding that he hasn't used his oven for years.

"I cook just about everything on the grill," Kelly told more than 50 people who turned out for an entertaining discussion of the best ways to grill chicken, meat and fish – along with every kind of produce from garden greens and peaches. "The grill to me is quick, it's easy and it's healthful."

Kelly has written many cookbooks, including Williams Sonoma Essentials of Grilling, The Complete Meat Cookbook, Hot Links and Country Flavors, Real Beer and Good Eats and Flying Sausages. Some were co-authored with sausage specialist Bruce Aidells. The longtime SMC professor has also been a consultant to food- and wine-related businesses, taught classes on wine and food and was a founding national director of the Society of Wine Educators and Northern California director of the American Institute of Wine and Food.

Standing in front of a table with BBQ implements and four of his cookbooks, Kelly peppered his grilling tips with stories of eating raw pork in Serbia, eating lobster in Puerto Nuevo, Mexico, and nearly setting himself afire while demonstrating flambéing

"It's a very effective teaching tool," Kelly said as the audience laughed.

Kelly suggested that people use Pam olive oil spray to ready the grill for whatever is to be grilled (warning them not to remove the rack from the heat source first and noting "Rule No. 1 in cooking is ‘don't blow yourself up.' ''

He also said spice rubs are a wonderful way to flavor meat – a quick recipe was to create one by with two tablespoons of Spanish smoked paprika, one tablespoon of ground chipotle pepper and some tarragon, oregano and salt.

Kelly said if he marinades meat, he starts the night before, and he cautioned listeners to pat the meat dry before putting it on the grill to keep it from flaming or from causing the meat to stew rather than grill.

Asked if he prefers gas or charcoal grilling, Kelly said "I'm an easygoing guy. I'm not a fanatic." He uses his gas grill 90 percent of the time, but will barbecue over charcoal for something that would improve from smoking, such as ribs.

Kelly said that while he grills just about anything, including vegetables that he then puts into broth for soup, very lean meats such as pork tenderloin are difficult to cook properly over flame.

During the presentation, grilled crimini mushrooms with pesto and barbecued hot link sausages were passed around the audience.

-- Erin Hallissy
Office of College Communications