Need basic tips on halving recipes
I often halve recipes because I'm cooking for one or two, not 6-8, but I've found that you can't halve everything because it affects the amount of liquid in the pan, quickens burning, etc. For example, when making the chicken do-piaza from All About Braising last night, I had to keep adding liquid. Are there any good rules of thumb for halving recipes?
I don't have any real rules of thumb, but I often use a little more than half the fat, and also, as you say, think about how much liquid I'll need - it might take almost the same amount to cover two chicken breasts as it would four. As an example, when I made Marcella's osso bucco, I used half the number of pieces of veal shank, but went ahead and used the full amount of vegetables/liquid - but also, my DH really likes sauce.
This is going to sound weird, but if you're using half the recipe and it calls for being cooked in, say, a braising dish that's typically 10-12" in diametre, I cook it in a saucepan that's 5-6" in diametre so that the same amount of pan surface is exposed to the air.
It won't work for everything, but it's worth a shot.
I often reduce the "solids" in a recipe but leave the sauce "as is." The extra volume of sauce is rarely a problem, and many things don't "halve" gracefully.
I most cases, the sauce ingredients are not expensive.
I agree with the other posters that mention using a smaller pan size. Try to visualize how crowded the pan will be if you make the full recipe and how much the liquid covers the chicken. Then when you put your smaller amount of chicken in a smaller pan, add the appropriate amount of liquid to cover.