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Substitute for brandy?

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So I'd like to try my hand at this recipe, since I have some venison steaks hanging out in the freezer: http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recip...

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. Cognac.

      2 Replies
      1. re: letsindulge

        Cognac is fine brandy.

        1. re: GH1618

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

      2. 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. http://cookingfortwo.about.com/od/ing...

                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.

              3. Do you have sherry?

                2 Replies
                1. re: sandylc

                  Yes ma'am.

                  1. re: juliejulez

                    There you go!

                2. Obviously there is not a substitute that will taste the same. There are some that will still taste good. Based on what it sounds like you have, I'd use a red wine such as a Cabernet. Taste and you might even like more that 2T. If you use a vinegar, such as balsamic, red wine or sherry, I'd start with less, maybe 1T, then increase to suit your taste.

                  So we really can't talk you into buying brandy for cooking? You don't need an expensive Armagnac. I've done well with keeping $20-25 cognac around just for cooking; they last awhile. You can also buy a smaller than 750ml bottle, but you'll pay more per ounce.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: GourmetWednesday

                    At this moment, no. Funds are very tight for the next month or so, so an extra $25 for something I might use 2-3 times a year isn't really in the cards right now.