The basic aim is this - use the hotplates as little as possible!
The principle is that 20% of cooking on the Aga should be done using the hotplates; the remaining 80% using the ovens. The Aga is a great storage unit for energy where the plates and ovens are always kept hot and ready for use; however this heat is most rapidly lost when the lids are opened. The lids are insulated and designed to trap the heat in, so leaving them open has a direct impact on how much heat is available for cooking food in the ovens at the same time.
This ties into another ‘rule’ - the ‘7-minute principle’. The hotplates should only be used for cooking items requiring 7 minutes or less. Using the boiling plate cooks food quickly. For example: fast stir-frying, deep fat frying or to bring things quickly to the boil; the simmering plate is a little slower by nature, and is used to heat milk or to make sauces - all generally taking less than 7 minutes.
The basic principle of using time is to help determine whether using the plates are the best use of your Aga’s energy - perhaps the item in question (for example keeping a sauce or soup warm for an extended period) is better performed inside the oven itself.
To be honest the most efficient way to use your Aga would be 100/0 - treat it as a target ;) To get more tips on how to save money running your Aga make sure you join our mailing list!
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