Penny Zako's Essential Guide to Christmas Lunch

Posted on December 17, 2021

Minimise stress on the big day with these top AGA tips from AGA demonstrator Penny Zako.

5 Days Ahead of Christmas

This is the time to make your cranberry sauce. This will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Make sure you bring the sauce to room temperature before serving. You can warm it up on the back of the AGA until you're ready to serve.

All you will need for the cranberry sauce is:

  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 100ml orange juice, fresh or from a carton
  • 250g pack fresh or frozen cranberries


  1. Tip 100g light muscovado sugar and 100ml orange juice into a pan, then bring to the boil.

  2. Stir in 250g fresh or frozen cranberries, then simmer until tender but still holding their shape – this will take about 5 mins if using frozen cranberries or 8-10 mins if using fresh. The sauce will thicken as it cools down.

  3. Once cool, store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

2 Days Ahead of Christmas

Let's talk about stock. Adding stock is great way to add more depth to your gravy. You could simply buy good quality shop-bought chicken stock at your local supermarket or for even more flavour, simply make your own turkey stock ahead of the big day.

To make the gravy:

1. Use the Portmeirion for AGA Roaster with Pouring Lip, place on the simmering plate to and melt the butter with the oil.

2. Add the giblets or chicken wings along with all the vegetables, heat through and then place onto the floor of the roasting oven to continue cooking until golden.

3. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns and the water, bring to a simmer place into the baking oven for about 1 hour.

4. Strain the stock into a jug and allow to cool slightly. At this stage, the stock can be stored in the fridge for 2 days.

5. Place the turkey roasting dish onto the simmering plate and add the flour, stir for about 1 minute and then gradually add the wine, cooking until it has reduced by half.

6. Next add the stock and the reserved turkey cooking juices and bring to simmer.

7. Then strain into the AGA sauce pot, leave to simmer and thicken on the resting area.

Christmas Eve

All you will need to do at this point is to prepare the bacon wrapped sausages and the stuffing to be refrigerated. Also, any other traditional side dishes that you like to serve at Christmas, all ready to be cooked at a moment's notice.

Christmas Day

In the morning, remove the turkey from the fridge, cover with a tea towel and to bring up to room temperature, ready for roasting later. (see suggested cooking times). This should take between 1-2 hours prior to roasting. If it's still fridge temperature, you will need to add extra cooking time to bring the turkey up to the right temperature in the cast iron cooker.

Once in the oven, remember there is no need to add any additional liquid or cover the bird at this point. The natural cooking from the cast iron radiant heat will ensure that the turkey will remain moist and succulent. Covering and adding extra liquids will steam the turkey rather than roast it.

90 minutes prior to serving – par boil the potatoes and cook in the top roasting oven. Remember top cook in hard anodised trays and tins for the ultimate crispy potato and always heat the fat beforehand.

Sit the bowl of cranberry sauce on top of the cooker on the enamel area surrounding the hotplate. Frozen peas and tinned sweetcorn can be placed in Pyrex bowls, covered in cling wrap and heated through in the same way.

60 minutes prior to serving – bring root vegetables to the boil, drain and continue to cook in the lower oven. Make the gravy and keep warm. Take the stuffing and sausages from the fridge to come up to room temperature.

30 minutes prior to serving – place the stuffing and sausages in the top oven.

Carve the turkey and dish up the sides and sauces. and enjoy!

For more top tips, check out Penny Zako's Instagram page by clicking here and for even more AGA content, check out the AGA Living website.