Christmas cooking on the Aga

  • 29th November 2021
How to have the perfect Christmas with a new Aga in the kitchen.

Whether it’s your first Christmas with an AGA or you're a seasoned AGA pro, there’s sure to be something to help make the day go even more smoothly in our guide to Christmas cooking on the AGA.

Aga Christmas tips

Simple tips to make your Christmas run as stress free as possible, giving you more time to relax with your family and a glass of your favourite tipple!

1. Make full use of your ovens

This is what your AGA was built for, creating a showstopper roast for the whole family and friends. The radiant heat providing cast-iron ovens are perfect for keeping in flavour and moisture on roasted meat and vegetables.

Not to mention the simmering and warming ovens that let you slowly cook sides and dessert or keep food warm meaning you roast will hit the table piping hot.

For those with an older AGA cooker (with a single heat source) remember the AGA 80:20 rule. 80% of your cooking should take place in the ovens and 20% on the hotplates.

2. Get ahead

Prep as many vegetables the day before as possible, never underestimate the time it takes to peel enough potatoes for 14 people!

Keep peeled potatoes covered with water in the fridge - you could even pre-roast (along with parsnips) and finish off on the floor of the roasting oven for 20-30 minutes on the day

  • Peel carrots and parsnips and store in the fridge in sealed containers
  • Shred cabbage
  • Trim brussels sprouts - store in a sealed container with a little water in the refrigerator overnight

If you have time, don’t just stop at preparing veg, all below can be cooked and kept in the fridge or freezer ready for the big day:

  • Prep and cook sausage or veg stuffing
  • Prep pigs in blankets
  • Make any sauces such as cranberry or bread sauce.

3. Choosing the right turkey

One of the benefits of an AGA is the large oven space, with the official line from AGA being you can fit a 13kg (28lb) bird in the oven.

That doesn't mean you need to find a turkey to fill the oven! When choosing your turkey or goose, allow 450g (1 lb) per person weighed when plucked and drawn or 225g (8 oz) per person for boned and breast-only roasts.

For goose, allow 900g (2 lb) per person, weighed when plucked and drawn or 450g (1 lb) per person, for boned and breast-only roasts.

This allows for the all important second helpings leftovers that can be used up on boxing day.

4. Re-heating the Christmas Pudding

To re-heat your Christmas pudding on Christmas Day simply wrap the pudding basin in several layers of foil and place in the simmering oven all morning. It will slowly heat through ready for serving piping hot at the end of your meal.

5. Warming plates before serving

Warming plates is a fantastic way to keep your food warm and delicious for longer. If you are lucky, your AGA may have a separate warming oven, which is ideal for warming plates and dishes.

Vegetable tureen lids and gravy boats are best warmed at the back of the top plate of the AGA, where they heat through without the handles getting too hot. Protect the enamel by using a Chef's Pad or cloth.

If you have a lot of plates and serving dishes to heat, then try the dishwasher trick, fill your dishwasher and put it on a heat only (drying) cycle, or on the shortest wash option.

6. Keeping the oven hot

When cooking a lot of food on a traditional AGA, avoid using the simmering plate apart from essential tasks and keep the simmering plate insulating lid down as much as possible to keep the roasting oven temperature high.

More recent AGA models, the hotplates are heated by separate electric elements and therefore do not affect the heat output in the ovens.

Virtual events

AGA are well known for hosting wonderful in-store Christmas demonstrations. Unfortunately this won’t be possible this year, thankfully AGA has a wide array of virtual events and hosted video resources to help inspire and guide your festive entertaining this year.

See the schedule of live events below hosted on Facebook and Instagram and make sure you follow @aga_cookers so you don’t miss any of the events live or need a link to watch later on.

Follow the link for full details on their virtual events or read the summary below:

Baking your AGA Christmas Cake

With: Penny Zako
Watch back: https://youtu.be/7L6YvbXghlY

Getting Your Home Ready for Christmas

With: Neptune
Watch back: https://www.instagram.com/p/CWTvk5yl22M/

Preparing Your Christmas Ham

With: Penny Zako
Watch back: https://youtu.be/pdbHln1goKk

Wreath Making

With: Birch & Bloom
Watch back: https://www.instagram.com/p/CWnccVTKVlo/

Cooking and Chatting

With: Davina McCall
Where: https://www.instagram.com/p/CWwFwIUlngJ/

Choosing Wine for Christmas

With: William Sitwell
When: 30/11/2021 @ 7:00pm
Where: Instagram Live

Vegetarian Christmas Cooking

With: Naturally Sassy
When: 01/12/2021 @ 7:00pm
Where: Instagram Live

Christmas Cookware

With: Naomi Hansell
When: 03/12/2021 @ 10:30am
Where: Facebook Live

Setting the Christmas Table

With: Sophie Conran
When: 06/12/2021 @ 10:30am
Where: Instagram Live

Christmas Canapes

With: Naomi Hansell
When: 08/12/2021 @ 10:30am
Where: Facebook Live

Christmas Roasting

With: Naomi Hansell
When: 16/12/2021 @ 10:30am
Where: Facebook Live

Christmas SOS

With: Penny Zako

When: 22/12/2021 @ 12:00pm
Where: Instagram Live

Christmas day timings

Thanks to AGA Living and Richard Maggs’ “The Little Book of Christmas Aga Tips” , here’s a Christmas Day lunch plan, tailored to cooking on your AGA.

The timings here are for a 6.3kg (14 lb) turkey, assumes you’ve part cooked your potatoes in advance and lunch is served at 2 o’clock.

8am - Remove turkey and stuffing from the refrigerator to allow them to come to room temperature before roasting. Also remove 6 oz (175g) butter to soften. Place the red cabbage or vegetable purée in a shallow-based AGA pan and leave out at room temperature.

9am - Assemble the plates and vegetable dishes in as compact a pile as possible, then place towards the back of the warming or simmering oven. Leave lids and sauce jugs to gently warm through on an AGA cork mat (or folded cloth) towards the back of the top plate, where the handles will not become too hot. Alternatively, use the warming plate on your AGA.

9:15am - Place the Christmas pudding in its china, glass or plastic basin, double-wrapped in foil, at the back of the simmering oven to slowly reheat throughout the morning.

9:30am - For the bread sauce (if you haven’t pre-made), bring milk to scalding point in a milk pan, then allow to infuse with the aromatic ingredients at the back of the top plate on a piece of kitchen paper.

9:45am - Loosely stuff the neck end of the turkey only. Draw the skin flap down to cover the stuffing and secure with a skewer. Place a halved onion and lemon in the cavity. Smear the breast and legs with the butter, and place strips of streaky bacon over the breast. Season the whole of the bird. Place in a full size AGA roasting tin, lined with Bake-O-Glide.

10am - Hang the turkey from the lowest set of runners in the roasting oven for an hour until nicely browned, turning the tin once if necessary. You now have an hour off to enjoy morning coffee with the family and to open presents.

11am - Baste the turkey, then tent very loosely with foil and return to the same position to continue to roast.

11.15am - While the turkey is roasting, prepare the garnishes: toss chipolata sausages in a little oil and maple syrup. De-rind streaky bacon and stretch each rasher slightly with the back of a knife, cut into two and roll up. Place in roasting tins or AGA baking trays – line with pre-cut pieces of Bake-O-Glide to make washing up easy, and use a grill rack for the bacon.

11:30am - Finish making the bread sauce. Remove the onion and add the remaining ingredients, then transfer the cooked sauce to a serving dish, cover with cling film and keep hot low down in the warming or simmering oven.

11:50am - Check to see if the turkey is nearly cooked, and turn back the foil. Remove the bacon from the breast to allow the skin to become crisp. The juices that run out of the thigh when pierced with a skewer should run clear with no hint of pink – if necessary, return to finish cooking and test again. If using a meat and poultry thermometer, it should read 75°C.

Transfer the cooked bird to a second, clean AGA roasting tin to rest. Cover with a double layer of turkey foil and several clean towels and place on the warming plate if your AGA has one or place it in the warm near the AGA on a thick pad of folded newspaper. The large mass of hot turkey needs to rest and insulating it in this way will ensure it remains piping hot for up to two hours.

12:15am - Once the turkey is resting, place the part-roasted potatoes and parsnips on baking trays to finish cooking directly on the floor of the roasting oven. If you are using more than one tray, alternate these during cooking so that they all enjoy a good spell on the floor of the oven to become crisp. Once they are evenly done. If necessary, a tray can be kept hot on an AGA toaster or floor grid on the floor of the oven, which will cut off the bottom heat.

12.30pm - Cook the chipolatas in the centre of the roasting oven** and the bacon rolls as high in the oven as possible, alternating these positions after 30 minutes or so. Alternatively, finish browning the chipolatas on the floor of the oven* once the roast potatoes and parsnips have become crisp and golden.

12:40pm - Cover carrots or other root vegetables with cold salted water and bring to the boil on the boiling plate. Partially offset the pan and boil slowly for 3-4 minutes, then drain, cover and transfer to the simmering oven to steam.

1:00pm - Place the turkey stock in a pan on the boiling plate and bring almost to the boil. Make a roux for the gravy base in another pan, using some turkey fat skimmed from the roasting tin, adding an equal quantity of flour – a tablespoon of each will thicken each pint of medium to thin gravy. When the roux has cooked for a few minutes, partially offset the pan and whisk in half the hot stock, a ladleful at a time. Simmer for a few minutes until thickened, then remove from the heat.

1:10pm - Carefully skim or pour off the remaining fat from the turkey roasting tin and save for cooking later. Add the remaining cooking juices to the gravy base. Place the tin on the simmering plate and add the remaining stock in three separate batches, using a flat wooden spatula to scrape the bottom to release every scrap of flavour, adding these to the gravy. Adjust the amount of stock to produce gravy of your preferred consistency, adding a small slug of dry sherry before tasting and adjusting the seasoning. Simmer for a minute, then cover and keep hot in the simmering oven.

1:20pm - Bring a kettle to the boil and take off the heat ready for cooking the Brussels sprouts. Place the red cabbage or vegetable purée to heat through on the simmering plate until piping hot, stirring occasionally. Transfer with the steamed carrots to two warmed serving dishes, cover with cling film and keep hot in the simmering oven.

1:45pm - Bring the kettle back to the boil, pour into a broad-based AGA pan and when boiling fast, add salt and drop in the Brussels sprouts and cook uncovered for 6-8 minutes until tender, depending on size. Drain and place in a warmed serving dish and dot with a little butter. Keep hot on a chef’s pad or folded cloth on a closed lid.

1:55pm - Transfer the rested bird to a warmed platter and garnish with the bacon and sausages. Whisk into the gravy any turkey juices that have been collected. If you want to speed up serving at the table, consider carving one side of the turkey breast and one of the legs in the kitchen before everyone sits down, then present the uncarved side in view at the head of the dining table.

2:00pm - Lunch is served!

There is a whole host of more Christmas related content on AGA living including videos, recipes and hints and tips.

Happy AGA Christmas from the Middletons!

Speak to a friendly team member on 01403 864 446 or Contact us online

 
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