Christmas is coming and if you’re relatively new to your AGA, then you might be wondering how to make the perfect Christmas dinner on (and in) it. It’s surprisingly easy as long as you understand how your AGA works. It’s more of a long-distance runner than a sprinter, so you need to start thinking about heating it up at least the day before.
‘Twas the night before Christmas
Chances are you’ve already got your AGA purring away nicely anyway, especially if you managed to buy in some of the cheap home heating oil NI households love to stock up on. If you haven’t fired her up yet, then Christmas Eve is the time to do it. An AGA is, essentially, an all-singing, all-dancing storage heater and so you’re storing up heat to use throughout Christmas Day so you can create an amazing roast. You don’t need to turn up the AGA to max, however, as this won’t shorten the time it takes to heat up, it’ll just aim for a higher temperature.
Warm up your bird
You can help your AGA along by letting your turkey come up to a cool room temperature before it goes in – the extra few degrees that it’ll have to heat up by if it starts off chilled will use up a lot of energy. Don’t leave it standing around for hours though, as you risk food poisoning – an hour or so should do.
Ease up on the hotplates
If you can do most of your cooking IN, rather than ON, the AGA, so much the better. Using the hotplates really cools down the interior, so if you use the simmering oven for vegetables, you’ll be much better off. You probably have an 80/20 rule (80% IN, 20% ON), but for a big feast, try for 90/10 at least.
Use the kettle to boil water
Think about it – you’re bringing several pans of water to the boil from cold. That’s a lot of energy! Use your kettle to boil water for your pans. Yes, it’s extra electricity, but nothing cools down an AGA as much as boiling water on the hotplates. You can’t afford a cool oven on the big day!
Don’t try to do everything at once
You can make some things the day before; pigs in blankets, your roast potatoes, the stuffing or any cakes or biscuits you plan to eat on Christmas Day. Think about novel ways of cooking your regular veg that involve the oven – carrots with an orange glaze, for example.
Guard your AGA with your life
Or at the very least, with a wooden spoon that you’re not afraid to use… Every family has at least one member that can’t resist opening the oven door “just to check” (or pilfer roasties, more like). Every time the doors are opened, precious heat escapes, so make sure you’re there to fend the fiddlers off!
Insulate the hob covers
If you plan to cook the entire dinner in, rather than on, the AGA, insulate the hob lids. You can buy covers for them, or maybe place towels over them when they’re not in use, to keep in as much heat as possible.