Aga tips

Some questions new Aga owners ask:

 

  1. How do you grill?  Put the grill rack that came with your Aga into the roasting tin, big feet downwards so that the top of the rack is level with the top edge of the tin.  Put your food on the rack and slide the tin onto the top runners in the roasting oven, right up against the roof of the oven, which is nearly as hot as the boiling plate.  It grills!

  2. How do you stir fry?  Use a really wide based, heavy pan so that it has maximum contact with the hotplate.  Pre-heat your pan in the roasting oven or on the simmering plate while you chop your ingredients.  When you are ready to stir fry, move the pan to the boiling plate and off you go.  The boiling plate is at is hottest when the lid is first opened, so save that heat for when your ingredients are ready, rather than heating the pan up while you chop.  Don't try to use a wok, the base it too small to get the entire pan hot enough to stir fry properly.

  3. How do you bake a cake in a 2-oven Aga? Put your cake tins(s) into the large roasting tin and hang that from the lowest runners in the roasting oven, then slide the cold plain shelf onto the 2nd runners above.  This creates an ideal, moderate baking temperature, with the deep sides and base of the tin shielding the heat from the sides and back of the oven, while the plain shelf protects from the heat above.  This lasts for about half an hour, after which you move the big tin, and its contents, to the simmering oven.  Moving the tin raises the temperature in the simmering oven and prevents thermal shock from sinking your cake as you move it.  The cake then continues to cook gently in the simmering oven.   You can get two 8” sandwich tins in the roasting tin.  Don’t forget to take the (now very hot) plain shelf out of the top oven!

  4. How do you iron?  Fold up your laundry and put it onto the closed simmering plate lid.  Walk away.  When you come back, the ironing fairy has called!  DO NOT PUT LAUNDRY ON THE BOILING PLATE LID, IT IS TOO HOT AND WILL SCORCH THINGS. I have a rack that sits over the top of my Aga, which increases the airing and ironing space massively.

  5. How do you cook pastry?  No need to bake blind in an Aga; just put the raw pastry into a dish, add the filling and put onto the floor of the roasting oven to bake.  I recommend using a ceramic or Pyrex dish, since a metal flan tin will conduct the heat too quickly and the pastry will be browned before the egg has set and the cheese melted.  A ceramic or Pyrex dish doesn’t conduct the heat as efficiently as metal, so it all cooks at the same speed.

  6. How do you cook rice and risotto?  In the simmering oven.  Measure your rice and liquid, put into a pan, bring to the boil, cover and put into the simmering oven.  The rice will be cooked when it has absorbed all the liquid, which happens to take the same length of time that it says on the packet it came in!

  7. How do you grill a steak?   Pre-heat a griddle pan in the roasting oven then add the steak.  If it is a duck or chicken breast with the skin on, cook it on the floor of the roasting oven so that any fat spits onto the sides of the oven and carbonises, rather than spitting all over your clean laundry on the simmering plate lid.  The boiling plate is at is hottest when the lid is first opened, so save that heat for when your pan is hot for the steak, rather than pre-heating the pan on the boiling plate.

  8. How do you cook fish?  Simplest is to put your piece of fish into a shallow baking tray and hang it from the 2nd runners (Always counting down from the top) in the roasting oven for about 7 minutes. 

  9. How do you roast a joint?  Three choices here:  FAST roasting - Line the roasting tin with Bake-O-Glide and put in your joint of meat.  Hang the tin from the third set of runners in the roasting oven and cook, completely standard roasting as you have always done.  OR MEDIUM where you cook in the roasting oven for 1/3 of the cooking time, then move the meat to the simmering oven, allowing the entire calculated cooking time (in addition to the 1/3 already cooked) OR SLOW ROAST - cover the tin tightly with foil and put into the simmering oven (baking oven on slumber for Total Control Agas) for about two and a half or three times the calculated cooking time.  Once cooked, remove the foil and move the tin to the roasting oven for the joint to brown for about 5 minutes.

  10. How do you make gravy? When your joint is cooked, remove the meat and rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to settle.  Pour off all but 2 tbsp of the fat from the tin.  Stir in 2 tbsp flour, then blend on a pint of stock – maybe adding a spoonful of wine. Stir well then put the tin onto the floor of the roasting oven for 5 minutes.  Stir and return to the oven for 5 more minutes and the gravy will be boiling and thickened, ready to stir and serve.

  11. How do you warm plates? In a 4 or 5 oven Aga, in the warming oven.  In a 2 or 3 oven, anywhere on the top, since the lids are down and all the food is in the ovens.

  12. How do you cook root vegetables?  Cut up your vegetables, put into a pan and cover with cold water.  Put on the lid.  Bring to the boil, a really good hard boil, on the boiling plate, then take a deep breath, drain off ALL of the water in the pan, replace the lid and put into the simmering oven.  Leave the kitchen.  They are cooked in about half as long again as you would cook them on top, but the lids are down, the Aga is not wasting heat and you don’t have to be there.

  13. How do you cook green vegetables?  Put into a pan and cover with cold water.  Put on the lid.  Bring to the boil, a really good hard boil, on the boiling plate, then they are done.  Drain and serve immediately, before they lose the bright green colour and crunch.

  14. How do you bake bread?  Rise your dough beside the Aga, not on the top as that is a bit hot and might kill the yeast before it has risen. I bake it in a tin on the floor of the oven to get a crispy crust underneath.  Bake in a round or square tin to show you have made it yourself, as you can’t buy square bread!

  15. What’s all this about bake o glide?  It is amazing.  Made in Lancashire by Falcon Products (Gary is the boss).  Non-stick, non-stain, non-taint, it saves about 80% of washing up and goes in the dishwasher.  Every single tin that I own has a piece that lives in it at all times.  Use it for cake tins, roast potato tins, under a joint of meat, for chicken nuggets.  Any time you are using a tin, use a piece of Bake-o-Glide.  Also brilliant on the simmering plate for fried eggs, pancakes etc etc and no need to clean the top of the Aga.

  16. Can I really cook a secret bacon sandwich?  Grill the bacon on the grill rack at the top of the roasting oven or fry it in a frying pan on the floor of the roasting oven and there will be no tell-tale bacon smells so no one will know what you are doing., so you won’t have to share your bacon!

  17. Fish fingers in the toaster?  Really?  Yes!  Two minutes each side on the boiling plate, then leave to stand for a minute for the heat to penetrate fully.  Crunchy, browned and hot all the way through.

  18. How do I make soup?  Put some onions and other veg into a pan with a bit of oil or water.  Cover and put onto the boiling plate.  When the lid is too hot to rest your hand on, it is at boiling point, so transfer to the simmering oven for at least 10 minutes.  The veg softens with no cooking or frying smells in the kitchen.  Once the veg are soft, pour in some stock, bring to the boil and either blend at once or put back into the simmering oven until you are ready to blend the soup.

  19. Does it all have to be stew? There is absolutely nothing at all that I can think of that cannot be cooked successfully in an Aga.  Especially stew!

  20. How do I steam a pudding?  Line your pudding basin with cling film.  Pile in the mixture.  Cover with more cling film.  Put the bowl into the simmering oven.  Get it out 3-6 hours later, remove the cling film lid and turn out.  Yum.

  21. Why does the toaster stick?  It is not hot enough.  Preheat it under the boiling plate lid for a minute before you put the bread in and it won’t stick nearly a much.

  22. Eggs without a frying pan?  Put a piece of Bake-O-Glide onto the simmering plate, break an egg onto it and close the lid.  In about 2 minutes you have a perfect egg, no fat, no frying pan, no washing up.

  23. How do I heat baked beans?  Loosen the lid of the tin before you put it into the simmering oven for anything from half an hour to all day.

  24. How do I cook Christmas dinner in a 2 oven Aga for 10 people?  Get ahead and cook a lot on Christmas Eve, or better still, freeze in advance. The roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, roast parsnips, root vegetable mash, red cabbage, bread sauce and gravy can all be made in advance, frozen and got out the day before to defrost, before reheating on the day.

  25. Why no extractor fan in the kitchen?  If you put a giant vacuum (which is what an extractor fan essentially is) over a live gas or oil flame, it will suck the gas or oil out of the pipe and burn it extra fast.  The poor old Aga doesn’t know what is going on, it goes into high fire mode and you use far, far more fuel than it is designed to do and the ovens lose heat as you suck the heat from them.  It costs a fortune to use an extractor over a live flame Aga and spoils the amazing cooking of an Aga.  If you have electric, feel free, but all the lovely Aga warmth in your kitchen will be sucked into the garden!  Put anything smelly or steamy into the oven and the flue takes away smells and steam.

  26. How do I see if things are done when it’s in the oven?  Open the door and look.  No need to worry about the heat falling out like other people’s ovens, the Aga is so well insulated you can actually slide out your souffle, give it a wobble and decide it needs a bit longer, slide it back in and it continues to rise.

  27. How do you turn it up and down?  You don’t.  As long as it is at full temperature (mercury on the line) at breakfast three days in a row, you never need to turn it up or down again, except for servicing.  DO NOT TURN YOUR AGA UP FOR A DINNER PARTY OR CHRISTMAS, IT WILL COOK FASTER THAN USUAL AND EMBARRASS YOU!

  28. How do you turn it off?  Don’t be silly, you don’t!

  29. How do you do Yorkshire puddings?  Do them first thing, when the Aga oven is at its hottest. Put the plain shelf onto the 3rd runners in the roasting oven.  Put your tin, with oil in it, on the shelf and wait 5 or 10 minutes.  Pour your mixture into the tin and cook the Yorkshires on top of the shelf in the middle of the roasting oven.  They puff up like you wouldn’t believe.  Take them out of the oven and leave to cool (can freeze them at this stage). 5 minutes before you dish up (12 minutes from the freezer), put them back into the roasting oven to crisp up and warm through.

  30. How do I cook popcorn?  Put a piece of Bake-O-Glide on the simmering plate.  Put on a handful of popcorn kernels and shut the lid.  Wait.  It pops after a while.  When you are certain it has completely stopped popping, count to 20 quite slowly then open the lid.  A pile of perfect popcorn!

  31. How do I cook pancakes?   Put a piece of Bake-O-Glide on the simmering plate.  Pour on your pancake mix.  Wait about a minute or two.  When the top is no longer shiny, turn the pancake over and cook for a minute or two on the other side. 

  32. Why does it need servicing?  It is a mechanical beast, it needs servicing.  Properly, by a qualified engineer.  Regularly. Oil needs every six months, gas once a year and electric every 30 months.  Your car or central heating boiler would fizzle out if you didn’t service it, the Aga is the same.

  33. How often does it need servicing?  Oil every six months, gas every year, electric every 30 months.  Don’t risk a breakdown, get it serviced regularly by a proper, qualified Aga engineer.

  34. How long can you leave things in the oven?  Get things out of the roasting oven within ten minutes of your timer going off.  Ger things out of the baking oven within fifteen minutes of your timer going off.  Ger things out of the simmering oven before you go to bed.  Get things out of the warming oven by the end of the week.

  35. What do you do with stuff that has been incinerated?  Break it up and use it for firelighters – charcoal and fat burn beautifully.

  36. How do you make a casserole?  Use a wide based, heavy pan.  Put your meat, onions and other vegetables into it with a spoonful of oil.  Set onto the boiling plate for a minute to warm up, then transfer to the floor of the roasting oven and shut the door.  Any spitting fat, steam or cooking smells disappear into the flue.  Leave for 5-10 minutes.  Maybe shake the pan after 5 minutes.  When the meat has browned, move the pan to the boiling plate, add flavourings, spices, liquids, thickenings etc. and stir.  When boiling, put on the lid and put into the simmering oven until you are ready to eat.

  37. How do you roast potatoes?  Parboil as usual.  Drain and shake, maybe adding a spoonful of seasoned flour or semolina for crunch.  Shake well.  Add a spoonful of oil or melted fat.  Shake well.  Tip into a shallow baking tray and slide onto the 2nd runners in the roasting oven.  Roast for up to an hour until crunchy and browned.  No need to turn, spoon fat over or even open the oven.

  38. How do you reheat roast potatoes? When the roast potatoes are ready, take from the oven and leave to cool.  To serve them the same day, put the tin back onto the 2nd runners on the roasting oven for 5 minutes.  To reheat from the larder or fridge, put the tin back onto the 2nd runners in the roasting oven for 10 minutes.  To reheat from the freezer, tip the frozen potatoes into the shallow tin and put onto the 2nd runners in the roasting oven for about 25 minutes.  The dry heat in the oven means they will always be crunchy when reheated. 

  39. How do you make porridge?  Measure your oats and water (one part oats to two of water) and put into a pan.  Put the lid on and set the pan onto the back of the Aga in the evening.  Next morning, move the pan to the simmering plate and stir once.  It will boil before you have made your cup of tea or coffee to accompany it.

  40. How do you slow cook a goose or duck?  Sit your goose in your grill rack, big feet down, and set it in the roasting tin. Cover with foil. Into SO for about a pound an hour overnight. In the morning, remove foil and if you have one, lift the goose and its rack into a fresh tin, so that all the lovely rendered fat is not overheated. Failing that, tip it into a jug but keep the fat out of the RO until you need it for roasties or it will burn and be wasted. Put the cooked goose, uncovered and still on its rack, in the tin and put into the RO for at least 45 minutes to brown and crisp the skin. Leave to rest while you make the gravy, reheat the roasties etc etc etc.

  41. How do you cook a huge quantity (30 or more) of baked potatoes?   No need to waste foil by wrapping them, it slows down the cooking. Stab them with a knife to stop them exploding then throw half onto the grid shelf on the 3rd runners and the rest onto the grid shelf on the floor in the RO. After an hour, swap the shelves over. Another hour and they are all cooked. Line a laundry basket with a towel or two or a cot duvet, chuck them in and cover with the rest of the towel and your  dog walking coat. They will stay warm for a couple of hours. 

  42. How do you cook pasta?  Put the pasta in a pan of water.  Put the lid on.,  Put it onto the floor of the roasting oven for about 15 minutes.  Drain and serve.

  43. How do I clean the inside of the lids?  Either chuck a couple of ice cubes on the hotplates, close the lid and allow the steam to loosen any burnt on fat, then wipe away with a cloth, or open the lid, leave it open to cool for a minute or two then lay first the grid shelf then the cold plain shelf onto the hotplate (this will protect you from the intense heat) and pout on some gardening gloves (again, to protect you from the intense heat).  Clean the inside with a wet Brillo pad or some fine wire wool, then wipe clean and dry with a cloth.

  44. How do I cook biscuits in a 2 oven Aga?  Put the balls of mixture onto some bake o glide on the plain shelf and slide it onto the 4th runners.  Slide your big roasting tin onto the 2nd runners above, so that you are using the roasting tin as a cold plain shelf to protect the biscuits from the heat at the top of the oven.

Phone: +44 (0) 1264 781 072

Follow Sarah on Twitter for recipe tips and interesting food combinations as they go into the oven, as well as advance information on demonstration places and menu ideas!

 

Still deeply in love with my Dual Control Aga, it really is the best cooker ever to come out of Telford!

Now also the proud owner of an Aga 60. A brilliant cooker!