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Video: Christmas dinner made easy as Scotland’s national chef reveals his top five tips for festive food without the fuss

If you’ve never cooked Christmas dinner before or it’s something you dread each year, fear not because Gary Maclean is on hand to help keep things simple.

However you’re planning to spend Christmas this year, it will probably feel a little different to the ones that have gone before.

Restrictions mean large multi-household gatherings are out, so it may be that you find yourself cooking Christmas dinner for the very first time.

Whatever your circumstances, Scotland’s national chef, Gary Maclean, says that by following just five simple tips we can turn out a delicious meal, without fretting or fussing.

The Masterchef: The Professionals winner is currently making cooking easier all round with his Festive Cookalong home delivery meal box in partnership with Scotch Beef PGI.

The three-course meal box for two comes with everything you need to create the ultimate dining experience at home using some of Scotland’s best produce, and includes a step-by-step cook-along video. 

But when it comes to the big day, he has you covered with these simple solutions..

Scotland’s national chef, Gary Maclean.

Gary’s Five Tips for Christmas Success

1.    Plan

Gary says: “Plan everything that you’re going to do; write a shopping list covering all the ingredients you need for what you’re going to make, get everything written down. I know it’s boring to do that but just take the time – take 15 minutes and get it planned.”

TIP: Don’t forget those little extras like cranberry sauce, cream and brandy butter that can be so easily overlooked – until you go to serve them and realise they aren’t there.

2.    Shop early

Gary says: “Don’t leave the shopping until it’s too late. If you get the shopping done on the 21st or 22nd, that’s really important, don’t be running in on Christmas Eve because the shops will be rammed and there’s a chance that everything you need is gone.”

3.    Preparation

Gary says: “Get prepped before Christmas, that’s really important. Don’t leave everything until Christmas morning. Professional chefs work a couple of days in advance when they’re working in restaurants or doing big events so get ahead and get as much done as possible.”

TIP: Most veg can be prepared the day before by peeling things like carrots and parsnips and keeping them submerged in cold water overnight. You can also parboil your potatoes the day before and keep them in the fridge, ready to go into the oven the next day.

4.    Family serve themselves

Gary says: “I do this all the time at home and it makes the biggest difference to the stress levels on Christmas day. Put everything onto platters, don’t be serving everything on individual plates. So if you get your turkey sliced on a platter, your veg in heated bowls or baking trays, a jug of gravy, a plate of roast potatoes, get it all out on the table and let people help themselves. You’ll be amazed at how it takes the stress out of everything. I’ve been working in restaurants my whole life and I cannot do hot, plated food for Christmas Day. Doing it this way takes a lot of stress out of the occasion.”

5.    Chill out and relax

Gary says: “The most important thing is about you being with your family at Christmas, spending time with the kids. Put the food to the side and chill out and enjoy your time with the kids because they’ll want you more than the food. I think if you follow these five easy tips you’ll be well prepared for a stress-free Christmas.”

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