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A dark spirit will work too, just do not use as much. Brandy, Whiskey should do. If you do not have anything alcoholic, I have had some success with dark sodas as well. Root Beer, Coke, and Dr. Pepper are interesting and may taste good. If you do not want to sweeten the stew up too much, and you do not think the stew requires more liquids, than do not add anything (or do), the alcohol in most foods just amps up the flavors in acids in the food.
AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
My favorite secret ingredients in stew are a few teaspoons of fish sauce and a single teaspoon of molasses, and you have to use both together. It sounds kind of strange, but it makes any hearty soup or stew better, without anyone ever figuring out how you did it. Be careful though, as you must add it before your final seasoning, or it will be too salty. ;o)
Shh...don't give away all my secrets! JK!!! Umami Bombs are seriously the bomb. My stew/chili usually has fish sauce, anchovies, soy sauce, molasses, marmite, tomato paste, minced mushrooms, and a little bit of Japanese kombu kelp (used like bay leaves).
Ok! I'm game for the experiment with fish sauce and molasses as both in the pantry. Many thanks!
Chops is a trusted home cook.
I often sub out wine with chicken stock or broth for beef stew with very good results.
i think aj and vittle's suggestions are great; i would also urge the tang brought about w/ the acid of red wine vinegar and perhaps some worcestershire sauce.
suggestion- a good way to try out different flavors is to remove a bit of sauce (1/4-1/2 cup) into a bowl or 2, add little bits of suggested flavorings, and see what you like. you can also usually add the experiments back into the pot w/o damage to the eventual whole.
Yes, Worcestershire is such a good idea in this case. I'd probably put it in even if I had the wine. ;o)
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Indeed, while I add the wine, I also add Worcestershire sauce (about 2 TBSPs for a recipe that calls for 3 lbs of meat) as well as a healthy dollop or two of the more-acidic-than-Heinz Annie's Organic ketchup.
Emily is a trusted source on General Cooking.
do you have vermouth? i made a daube last week with some and loved it. i'd use about half of what's called for (for the wine) though and make up the difference with some broth or the other good suggestions given here.