What you need:
1 24 oz. can of tomato sauce
1-2 tsp. of Tabasco sauce
1 Abbey Ale
Directions: Sauté the onion. Add tomato sauce, Tobasco sauce, beer, salt and pepper to taste.
Source: Jamie Lucas of West Flanders Brewing Company
F or University of Colorado students who are hoping to spice up their meals without breaking the bank, executive chef Jamie Lucas suggests making the most of what's already in the fridge.
Lucas, head chef at West Flanders Brewing Company, 1125 Pearl St., Boulder's newest brewery, said even a typically bare college refrigerator has one ingredient that can add zest to any meal: beer.
"I think a lot of people think of it like wine -- where you need to pick the right wine for the food to make it work -- but beer goes with everything," Lucas said. "The cool thing is that beer has so many complex flavors, so it draws out the flavors in so many different foods and vice versa."
Lagers, like Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR), encompass many of the affordable beers students tend to drink, Lucas said, and pair well with cheese or barbecue.
Bitter beers, like India Pale Ales (IPAs), develop unique flavors in spicy or smokey foods, Lucas said.
While pairing a brew with your food can bring out new, exciting flavors, Lucas said using the beer as an ingredient is another simple way to add variety to your weekly meals.
The owners of Boulder's famous college bar on University Hill, The Sink, 1165 13th St., opened West Flanders Sunday night, serving four original brews as both a beverage and an ingredient in most of their dishes.
West Flanders' uses an Abbey Ale Belgian beer in the pizza sauce that Lucas said will likely make the brewery's Mardi Gras Pizza one of their more popular dishes.
Without giving away the signature recipe, Lucas said an adaptation of the tomato-based sauce, which includes salt, pepper, onions and Tabasco sauce, is an easy way to start experimenting with beer as an ingredient.
Bill Quinn, assistant cooking manager at Boulder's Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery, said they use a stout reduction as a glaze on deserts. Although he said that may not be a cost-effective recipe for college cooks, he recommends starting with a stout, honey barbecue sauce.
Quinn said an average bottle of barbecue sauce can be transformed with stout beer -- like Guinness -- honey and mustard. For beginners, Quinn said start with the sweeter stouts, or even a Belgian beer when experimenting with recipes, rather than using a more hoppy, bitter beer -- which could turn some novice cooks off.
Lucas said those adventurous students who are testing out homebrews may have an advantage when it comes to cooking.
"Beer is kind of the ultimate recyclable product," Lucas said. "You can use almost every part of the process -- like the spent grains and the wort -- in recipes.
"Then you can add the finished product and drink what's left."
Experimenting is the key, Lucas said, and when there's beer involved, there's one way to save any disastrous dish: "Drink more beer until it tastes good."