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Single Servings

Asked by Lrchr. Answered on 12th September 2012

Full question

Hi Nigella, I am a single man but I love to follow your recipes. However most of them are for more than 1 person. I know how to reduce the quantity of the ingredients but do I need to alter the cooking time?

Our answer

For the majority of savoury dishes it is likely that the cooking times for a dish will remain the same, or very similar. For example, pasta will take the same time to cook regardless of how much or little you cook, minced (ground) meat will take pretty much the same time to cook and one portion of steak or chops will take pretty much the same time to grill or pan fry as a larger number.

If you are making smaller pies, such as an individual Shepherd's Pie or Fish Pie, or a small lasagne then these will take less time to bake in the oven vs. a family-sized version as they are smaller. But individual pies are still likely to take at least 30 minutes and you should always check that they are piping hot in the centre before serving them. Smaller joints of meat and poultry will also take less time to roast in the oven and often Nigella will give guidelines for how much time to allow per kg/pound.

For some recipes that serve one, or serve two but are easily halved, we would suggest looking at the TV Dinners and TempleFood chapters from Nigella Bites and the Ultimate Feasts chapter from Feast.

If you are cooking for one it is often still worth making a full quantity of braised or stewed meat as these dishes freeze and reheat very well. Cool and chill the dish as quickly as possible (foods should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking) then divide into single portions and freeze in airtight containers for up to 3 months. Frozen food should be thawed overnight in the fridge before using and should be reheated until piping hot.

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