What the heck is an AGA?

When we moved into our feels-like-a-holiday cottage, we inherited a red two-oven AGA.

Apparently, dogs like to stay warm by an AGA. Even in June…

I’d only read about AGAs and Rayburns and similar ranges in novels set in English country cottages and manor houses, where they seem to be written in as minor kitchen characters.  I’d seen some in magazines or on pinterest, but had never even seen one in real life.  And I’d certainly never used one.

They are very different from any other stove/oven combo that I’d worked with; very different. So, I knew there’d be a learning curve.

It is some seriously heavy kit. And I literally mean heavy – solid piece of cast iron heavy.

Two hot plates, two ovens, one Border Collie.

An AGA’s cast iron core absorbs heat from a continuously burning source, that chunk of metal then releases radiant heat to cook/bake.  Our AGA burns oil, though there are solid fuel, gas and (more recently) electric versions.

I can only speak to the Red AGA above and to our experience with it.

All my initial information came from the internet, starting with the manufacturer’s own website (www.agaliving.com), where I read the following:

Image www.agaliving.com
Boiling Plate
Big enough to hold three average sized saucepans at once, the high heat of this boiling plate can boil water faster than most electric kettles.
Simmering Plate
The simmering plate has a far gentler heat than the boiling plate, making it work wonders with sauces or when frying an egg. It holds three average sized saucepans and can also be used as a griddle.
Heat Source
Once an AGA is up to operating temperature just a trickle of energy is all that’s needed to keep it there. You can choose from natural gas, propane gas, electricity or oil.
Roasting Oven
This oven alone is big enough to cook for the whole household, with a space to accommodate a 13kg (28lb) bird. As versatile as it is spacious, it can also be used for grilling and baking.
Baking Oven
Featured in every 3 or 4-oven AGA. Like all AGA ovens the cast iron interior holds in its heat tenaciously, so don’t be afraid to open the door and take a peek at progress. Its moderate baking temperature is perfect for bread, cakes and biscuits.
Simmering Oven
You’ll never taste meat that’s as tender or flavoursome as meat that has been slow cooked in this oven. Simply slide in your dish first thing in the morning, pull it out at teatime and enjoy the incredible results.

 

Boilerplate advertising, right?   Hmm, that’s what I thought too.   That said, a person has to start somewhere.  So, I did my homework online and asked for an AGA cookbook for Christmas.

Guess I’ll work my way through the recipes.  I’m particularly intrigued by the option to cook Pizza on the bottom of the Roasting Oven, and by the Roasted Pork Belly with crisp crackling.  And Chocolate Brownies are a must.

And I’ll have to experiment a bit – I guarantee an English cookbook will not deal with some of the foods I grew to love in the southern United States.  Shrimp and grits, Fried Chicken, Cornbread…

We’ve got an AGA adventure on our hands!

 

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