Perfect Roast Turkey with an Electrickit aga

Cooking Christmas Dinner with an Electrickit aga

Several customers who have had ElectricKit conversions were asking before Christmas how to cook the roast turkey. Before conversion, for many of them it was a bit of a hit and miss process, as when they started using the hobs to cook the vegetables (and possibly steam the Christmas pudding!) the heat in the ovens dropped away significantly, and it became a juggling act trying to balance the heat in the ovens with the hobs, and still serve something edible on time.

This is no longer a problem following the ElectricKit conversion, as the ovens and hobs are independent of each other, meaning that they can all be used at whatever temperature you require, whenever you decide you want them.

We cooked an 11lb bird this year in our converted 2 oven aga, complete with stuffing, pigs in blankets, parsnips and roast potatoes. In short, we set the oven to 220degC (very easy and accurate on the electronic dial), and once up to temperature, cooked the bird for 3hrs, basting twice, and adding the trimmings and potatoes later. The hobs were perfect for boiling the vegetables, preparing the gravy, and steaming the Christmas pudding, and were switched on when needed.

It was succulent and delicious, and everything was ready at the time we initially set for feeding the family - quite a relief, and very enjoyable. A hassle free process!

 Cooking the perfect turkey using an Electrickit Converted aga

 Once you’ve converted your aga with an ElectricKit conversion, how do you cook the perfect Christmas roast? As an ElelctricKit specialist installer, I thought I’d share how it worked for us this Christmas.

 Firstly my conversion is a pre ’74, 2 oven aga, but the cooking instructions are the same for any ElectricKit converted aga. I was cooking a 4.64 kg (11lb) turkey, stuffed with a celery, onion and parsley lemon stuffing, complete with roast parsnips and potatoes, and pigs in blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon). In addition, we cooked sprouts, carrots and peas on the hobs without any loss of heat from the oven, as the hobs and ovens are powered independently.

Cooking time: 3 hours

Serves 8 people

Oven temperature: 220 deg C

 

Ingredients:

10 pound turkey, with giblets removed

1 lb streaky bacon

Butter

Chipolatas and streaky bacon - for the ‘pigs in blankets’

 

Stuffing

12 oz bread crumbs

8 oz chopped onion

4 oz butter, melted

3 oz chopped celery

2 tbsp chopped parsley

1 egg, beaten

Zest and juice of one lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

 Cook the onion and celery in a little oil in a pan, until soft. Then mix with the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, melted butter, chopped parsley and grated zest and lemon juice. Stuff the mixture firmly into both the neck and tail end of the turkey until the body cavity is full.

  Preparing and cooking the turkey

Keep the turkey at room temperature for at least two hours prior to cooking. Placing the on its back in the roasting tray, rub the breast of the bird with a little butter, and cover breast with a lattice of streaky bacon – this adds flavour and lightly protects the breast from burning in the oven.

 Ensure that the top oven is up to 220 deg C on the control panel, and place the turkey in it’s roasting dish in the top oven, on top of the grill resting on the bottom of the oven.

 Cook for about 60 minutes, basting once in that time. Then remove the bird from the oven, and put the ‘pigs in blankets’ and parsnips in the roasting tray, around the turkey.

 Cook for another 60 minutes, again basting the breast at least once during that time.

 Remove the bacon lattice from the breast, return to the oven to allow final even browning of the breast for 20-30 minutes. Remove bird from oven, and check that it  is cooked by inserting a sharp knife into the most meaty part of the bird (the thigh) and if the juices that run out are clear, the bird is cooked. If not return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until the juices are clear.

 Once cooked, remove turkey from the oven, set it on one side and cover with foil for at least 20-30 minutes before eating. This allows the bird to ‘rest’ and during that time, become very succulent and juicy. Remove the ‘pigs in blankets’ and parsnips from the tray and keep warm in the bottom oven. Use the juices at the bottom of the tray to make gravy.

 Roast Potatoes

Par boil your spuds for approximately 10 minutes, then transfer to the middle of the bottom oven in a baking tray with fat/ oil of your choice. Cook for approximately 1hr 10 minutes to 1hr 20 minutes in the middle of the bottom oven (with the top oven still at 220deg C). Then when the turkey has cooked and is ‘resting’, crisp up the roast potatoes in the top of the bottom oven for 5-15 minutes as required, by increasing the oven temperature by 20 degrees.

 Vegetables

The veggies are easy to do on the hobs. Boil the water in a kettle then add to the veggies in the pans. Once boiled, keep the pan simmering on a 2-4 setting on the hob – the setting depends on the size of your pans. And best of all, there will be no heat loss to the oven while cooking them!

 Do let me know how you get on with yours, and have a great Christmas and fantastic celebration meal!

 

I am running my aga for free!

In this sustained period of sunny weather we have been having, I have been running our aga for free.

It is a 2 oven pre 1974 aga which I converted to electric power with an Electrickit conversion some 5 years ago now. That in itself has kept the running costs low, as we can use it as and when we want to, it warms up very quickly, and there are no servicing costs or flue to worry about.

But even better than that, we had a 4kw array of solar panels put on our south facing roof 3 years ago, and as I write this on a bright sunny day, they are generating far more power than we need to run the aga.

I know that there was a capital cost to installing the solar panels, and they don’t work at night, but right now, I am really enjoying the thought that we are cooking all we want, and it is costing us nothing. And when we have finished cooking, we can just switch it off so that it does not add to the heat in the house. The panels are also generating enough electricity to run the dishwasher, washing machine, and all the hot water we can use via an emersion heater. Our summer electricity bill is almost nothing.

From an electricity consumption perspective, the aga main oven takes 1 hr 35 from room temperature to reach 200 degrees centigrade, and uses approximately 2.4Kw to get there. Then it uses 0.5Kw/ hr to maintain that temperature. The hobs, if put on a simmer setting of 4 (out of 8 available), take approximately 0.7Kw to get there (10 minutes), and 0.25 Kw / hr with the lid closed to maintain. And for a 4 oven model, the warming ovens take approximately 1 hr 15 minutes to reach maximum temperature of 110 degrees centigrade in the top oven, and uses 0.65Kw to get there. It then takes approximately) 0.4 Kw/hr to maintain that temperature. So even running the aga flat out, the panels are making more electricity than we can use.

What a great combination! I look forward to the cost of electricity storage systems coming down in price, and their efficiency increasing – then I think it would be an even better combination, and create even more smiles in me!

Getting the most from your ovens after conversion

After an ElectricKit conversion to your aga, you may find dishes of food/ baking can burn on the bottom of the top oven, or burn at the top of the bottom oven. This article will help you understand why this happens, what you can do about it, and how it can be turned to your advantage.

Why it happens

This effect happens because of how heat gets into the ovens. The heat source for the two main ovens (in a two or four oven aga) is an electric element located between them. When the top oven temperature is set on the display unit, the element will ‘fire’ (have electricity put into it to heat up), and the temperature set will be achieved after a certain time. Once the desired temperature is reached, the element between the ovens will only fire in short bursts to keep the temperature stable.

While the element between the ovens is firing, it will produce more heat at the bottom of the top oven, and at the top of the bottom oven. This will have an impact on any dishes resting directly on the bottom of the top oven, or placed near the top of the bottom oven.

When the element is not firing, the both ovens will quickly stabilize their respective temperatures throughout the oven space.

The element firing may produce a hot spot area within the oven floor, as this is the  nearest part of the oven to the element, so will heat the quickest. There will be a short term temperature differential in the oven, until the temperature sensor at the top of the oven reaches the required temperature. When it does so, it switches the element off, and the oven will quickly stabilize in temperature throughout its height and depth.

While the element is firing, any dish of food left resting on the bottom of the top oven will get heated more than the surrounding air, as it is closest to the element. This can result in a ‘burned bottom’, where the bottom of the food is heated more than the top. Turning up the oven to increase the temperature of the oven will result in the element firing more, and the problem getting worse.

A good way of avoiding this is to raise whatever you wish to cook slightly off the bottom of the aga oven by creating a small air gap. This can be accomplished by  placing the metal ‘baking tray’ plate, or a baking grill  that come with the aga, on the bottom of the top oven, then place the dish you want to cook on top of that.

Avoid opening the oven door lots of times, as each time this is done, some heat will be lost. When the door is shut again, the thermostat will fire the element to get the oven temperature back up to the temperature set, and this may produce a temporary hot spot on the oven floor, until the oven temperature has stabilized again.

Bottom oven

You cannot directly set the bottom oven temperature, and as a rule of thumb it will be at approximately 70% of the temperature set on the top oven display.

When the element between the ovens fires (to keep the top oven temperature at the desired temperature setting), the top of the bottom oven will get hotter more quickly than the bottom of the oven, as it is nearer to the element. The impact of this is that some items of food may burn on top and not be as cooked underneath. Once the element has stopped firing, the oven will quickly reach a uniform temperature throughout.

As previously mentioned, opening and closing the top oven door will result in heat loss in the top oven, and the thermostatic control system will respond by firing the element. This in turn will have an impact on the bottom oven, particularly near the top.

A way of reducing this effect and stabilizing the bottom oven temperature is to place the baking tray (metal sheet) near the top of the bottom oven, to create an air gap between the top of the oven and the plate. This will reduce the amount of direct heat radiated downwards onto food below the plate when the element is firing.

Using this effect to your advantage

 The temporary rise in temperature near the top of the bottom oven when the element fires (in response to the requirements of the top oven) can be used to produce a 'grilling' effect. Roast potatoes can be crisped up using this method, as can the tops of lasagnas or anything that you want to ‘brown’.

You can initiate this effect in the bottom oven by raising the oven temperature setting on the display by 10 -15 degrees centigrade.  This is usually enough of a rise to produce a grilling effect for approximately 15 minutes.

If you are going to do this, just be aware of what is in the top oven, as it will be heated from the bottom until the temperature set is reached.

Summary

Here is a summary of how to minimize burning food on the bottom of the top oven, or at the top of the bottom oven:

1. Keep to a minimum opening of the oven doors during cooking, as this will result in heat loss, and the element firing to compensate.

2. Place the metal baking tray or grill on the bottom of the top oven to create an air gap between dishes and the bottom of the oven.

3. Place the metal baking tray at the top of the bottom oven to create an air gap, and any food to be cooked underneath this.