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Mar 4, 2013 10:06 AM

Substitute for brandy?

So I'd like to try my hand at this recipe, since I have some venison steaks hanging out in the freezer:

But, I do not have brandy, and I'd rather not go through the expense to buy it right now just for 2 tbsp worth (might even be less as I might half the recipe). Looks like it's just used for caramelizing the onions.

So, are there any good substitutions for brandy? I have a large variety of different vinegars, wine, stocks etc.

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  1. Do you have bourbon? I'd think that would work. Otherwise, perhaps a fortified wine like madeira or sherry.

        1. re: GH1618

          Exactly. OP didn't have brandy, but she might have had Cognac. Just sayin...

      1. You could use some kind of pure extract, but it will cost more than a bottle of brandy.

        1. I don't have much in the way of liquor at all unfortunately... SO drinks beer, I drink wine or vodka.

          5 Replies
          1. re: juliejulez

            You may be able to buy a "miniature" (i.e., airline bottle size) of brandy. Alternately, you can definitely get a pint. I keep Christian Bros. brandy on hand, which is not particularly expensive, just for cooking and baking. I've had the same bottle for probably 20 years. It will keep forever. I dole it out a tbs or 2 at a time, mainly in baked goods (it's an ingredient in my Sugar Cookie recipe for Christmas cookies) but also some savory ones.

            Since vodka is essentially tasteless, I don't think it would give you the somewhat sweet taste that you get from Brandy (or the other alcoholic substitutes that I mentioned).

            1. re: juliejulez

              What kind of wine do you have, Juliejulez? If the brandy is just for caramelizing the onions, you could use balsamic vinegar. That would compliment the venison very well, I think. Or, a sprinkle of brown sugar...

              1. re: Gio

                Gio, I can get any kind of wine...I don't mind spending the money on that since I'll drink it too :) I have some cubes of cabernet in the freezer and an unopened bottle of sangiovese on hand (not sure that would be quite right with this though). Oh and a bottle of... I forget, a nice unopened white though, in the fridge. The balsamic vinegar is a good idea.

                masha, the idea of the little travel bottles is a great one, I don't think why I didn't think of that. The wine/liquor store I frequent has a huge selection of them.

              2. re: juliejulez

                I definitely think you can substitute some white wine or dry white vermouth here. You could even just omit it, use chicken or beef broth, or sprinkle the onions with a touch of red or white wine vinegar. Also, just a suggestion, but I would definitely add some thyme and maybe also parsley to the onion mixture, since it's meant to mimic duxelles. I'm surprised the recipe doesn't also call for mushrooms.

                1. re: ChristinaMason

                  Thanks! I got the recipe off the show "Little Paris Kitchen" on Cooking Channel. and she mentioned something about why she didn't use mushrooms but now I can't remember why. I've never made beef wellington, let alone venison, so I don't really know what I'm doing :) But, so far out of the venison recipes I've found, it has "spoken" to me the most. I just hope what's in that vacuum pack of venison is actually steaks, and not cubes or something like that. It was in there when I moved in and SO has no idea what it is, other than venison.