AGA ROAST POTATOES AND PARSNIPS
Choose a good, floury potato such as Desirée, Maris Piper or King Edward. Place even sized pieces of potato or parsnip in cold salted water and bring to the boil in a large AGA saucepan.
Parboil for 8-10 minutes, until the potatoes are tarting to soften, then drain well for 5 minutes, until the steam subsides. Shake well in the colander or dry pan, to roughen the edges of each potato.
Heat your chosen fat or oil in an AGA roasting tin on the floor of the roasting oven until good and hot, then add the potatoes and turn so that they are well coated. If using several roasting tins or the hard anodised baking trays, rotate them so that they all enjoy a spell crisping up on the floor of the oven.
Goose fat makes great roast potatoes, failing that a mixture of two fats gives the best results, e.g. solid vegetable fat and sunflower oil, used 50:50. For parsnips, if not using honey or syrup elsewhere in your menu, a little added near the end of the cooking gives a great glaze, perhaps with a couple of tablespoons of brown or white mustard seeds. Alternatively, dredge with a little grated parmesan and parsley.
AGA BRUSSEL SPROUTS
Choose sprouts that are all the same size so that they cook at the same rate.
Discard tired outer leaves and make a cross on the base in case of large ones.
Cook very fast at the last minute in salted boiling water on the boiling plate for 6-9 minutes until just tender.
For the fastest boiling select a large AGA pan with a very broad base which is ideal to get really bright and vibrant green vegetables.
Drain and toss in a little melted butter or toasted sesame oil. Brussels Sprouts can also be cooked ahead of time.
Boil in salted water for 6 minutes until just cooked, then drain and refresh by plunging into iced water for five minutes to arrest the cooking and set their bright green colour.
Drain again and chill. Re-heat in a pan with a small amount of water and a knob of butter just before serving.
Alternatively, they can be puréed with a little stock, cream or crème fraîche, seasoned and kept hot until wanted. The purée also re-heats well so can even be made the day before if necessary. Freshly ground black pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg bring out the full flavour of Brussels Sprouts.
SPICED CRANBERRY COMPOTE WITH PORT
As well as serving with turkey, this is excellent as a component in a fruit starter, for example with ripe melon. It goes superbly well with most cuts of cold meats – it is sensational with traditional spiced beef – or use a variation of it as a Christmas cheesecake topping: substitute half of the cranberries with blueberries and use ground cinnamon instead of allspice.
• 125g (5 oz) granulated sugar
• 200ml (8 fl oz) orange juice
• 225g (8 oz) fresh cranberries
• 1 rounded tsp ground allspice
• 1 tsp of arrowroot
• 2 tbsp port
Dissolve the sugar in the orange juice in a 2 litre AGA stainless steel pan on the simmering plate and then add the cranberries and spice.
Cover, bring to the boil and cook in the simmering oven until the berries are tender, about 15 minutes.
Slake the arrowroot in a little cold water and stir into the sauce and cook for a minute on the simmering plate until thickened slightly and glossy.
Cool and stir in the port before storing in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Stud the onion with the cloves and place with the bay leaf in the milk in a 1.5 litre AGA stainless steel pan.
Scald the milk on the simmering plate and then cover and leave the pan at the back of the AGA for the milk to infuse for at least an hour.
Remove the bay leaf and onion and add the breadcrumbs and butter.
Season to taste, and add the cream just before serving. Add extra milk or breadcrumbs if too thick or thin. Once made it will keep hot in the simmering or warming oven, covered with cling film.
SHERRIED TURKEY GRAVY
For every 600ml (pint) of thin gravy wanted, in an AGA saucepan make a roux with 25g (1 oz) of turkey fat taken from the roasting tin and 25g (1 oz) plain flour.For a thicker gravy use 55g (2 oz) of each per 600ml (pint).
Cook for a couple of minutes, adding a little extra turkey fat if at all dry.
Pour off all the remaining turkey fat and reserve for cooking, but leave all the congealed cooking juices in the roasting tin.
Add some turkey stock to the roasting tin and preferably place on the floor of the roasting oven or onto the simmering plate for a few minutes.
Off the heat, use a flat ended wooden spatula to deglaze all the concentrated juices and sediment. Pour this gradually onto the roux and whisk in thoroughly.
Repeat the deglazing process until the roasting tin is rendered clean and all the turkey juices have been whisked into the roux.
Add more stock to thin to your preferred consistency, adding salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Add a good slug of sherry and a little cream. This gravy will have an excellent turkey flavour but may be pale; a little gravy browning may be added to darken it slightly. When transferring the turkey from resting to its serving platter, add to the gravy the juices that will have accumulated.
Makes 2 x 700ml (1¼ pint) and 1 x 850ml (1½ pint) puddings
225g (8 oz) plain flour
2 level tsp baking powder
225g (8 oz) Demerara sugar
225g (8 oz) butter
225g (8 oz) breadcrumbs
225g (8 oz) marmalade
225g (8 oz) sultanas
225g (8 oz) raisins
225g (8 oz) currants
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg
3 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp rum or brandy
Rind and juice of 1 lemon
Melted butter for pudding basins
Place the flour, baking powder, Demerara sugar and the butter into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Tip the ingredients into a bowl, one by one add all the other ingredients.
Mix well together and make a wish! Butter the pudding basins with the melted butter.
Place the mixture into each basin and smooth the tops.
Cover the basins with a circle of baking parchment and a double layer of foil.
Allow to stand overnight.
Place the basins in a large enough saucepan to accommodate each one (use two pieces of wood batons to stand the basin on) and pour in boiling water to come halfway up the basin.
Simmer on the simmering plate for 20 minutes then transfer to the floor of the simmering oven for 6-8 hours (or overnight)
Puddings are best made ahead of Christmas (2 weeks is sufficient). On Christmas Day wrap the whole basin in foil and place at the back of the Simmering oven for 2-3 hours. Serve with brandy butter or a whisky sauce – make a white sauce with cornflour and stir in 3-4 tbsp whisky before serving.
VELVET PASTRY FOR MINCE PIES
450g (1 lb) plain flour
• 200g (7 oz) butter
• 85g (3 oz) vegetable fat
• grated rind of 1 large orange
• chilled orange juice
Sift the flour and rub the fat in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the grated rind and bind with the juice. If making in a food processor go gently as it is easy to overprocess. 2 .
Chill before using for 30 minutes. The mixture is very rich, and is best handled as little as possible.
Roll and cut out 24 x 5cm (21/4 inch) lids first. Then cut out 24 x 7cm (3 inch) bases, re-rolling as necessary. Grease and line the tins then add just enough mincemeat before topping with the lids using milk to stick them securely.
Brush with milk and make a small slit in each pie.
Bake for 20-30 minutes on the grid shelf on the floor of the roasting oven until golden. The pastry is wonderfully crumbly, so I usually freeze the pies raw in the tins and then when hard store them in bags or boxes. They are then quick to bake from frozen as required.
Alternative Christmas recipes can be found here.