Is there something that I can substitute for Madeira wine?--Becky
Madeira is a fortified wine from Portugal. By fortified, I mean a wine to which brandy or some other spirit has been added to increase the alcohol content. Although it may be served as a drink either before or after a meal, it also makes a great cooking wine in both sweet and savory applications. Madeira comes in a wide variety of flavors, from pale dry to rich and tawny.
If you are looking to substitute something else for Madeira and are not concerned about cooking with alcohol, then you can substitute any of dry port, sherry or Marsala wines. In savory dishes, you can also substitute a dry red wine, although the dish will be noticeably different as it will lack some of the complex flavors that Madeira imparts.
If you are trying to avoid cooking with alcohol, then in savory dishes substitute an equal amount of rich beef or chicken broth or pan gravy from either.
You can also try adding some reduced balsamic vinegar. Reducing will cook off some of its acidity and at the same time increase the complexity of flavors. I would suggest starting with a relatively small amount, maybe about half the amount of balsamic as the recipe gives for Madeira, and then reduce that over medium-low heat until it is about half of its original volume and has started to become syrupy. Then use this in conjunction with the meat or chicken stock to add flavor. Use about about half of the reduced balsamic which you made, or about 1/8th the amount of Madeira in the recipe, to begin with. Once the dish is prepared, you can taste it and see if you wish to add more of the reduced balsamic vinegar. The dish will differ somewhat from what it would be like with Madeira, but the reduced balsamic will give a lot of complexity to it. I have used this technique successfully to produce very flavorful sauces.
In sweet dishes, you can substitute an equal fruit juice (apple, pomegranate or berry) if you don't want to use alcohol. Otherwise use any of the fortified wines mentioned above. Or you can simply leave it out and increase the volume of other liquids by that amount.
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