WITH much of Scotland staring down the barrel of a festive season in lockdown, you might be struggling to raise some holiday cheer.
However, thanks to Masterchef the professionals winner Gary Maclean’s Festive Cookalong, Christmas is firmly back on the menu.
The three course meal box for two comes with everything you need to create a restaurant experience at home, as well as a video from Gary guiding you through each step of the cook.
And whether you plump for the Scotch beef Wellington or vegetarian option as we did, you are guaranteed fresh, high-quality ingredients all delivered to your door.
On that note, our box did arrive a little disheveled (but who isn’t these days?). Some extra securing would not have gone amiss, but generally, everything was simply laid out and ready to use.
The starter, either hot smoked salmon or a pea panna cotta, sits on a bed of luxurious pea truffle puree with fresh, crunchy greens and a lemon dressing. Our dressing was a casualty of transit, however it did not stop the first course from being an absolute knockout.
Deliciously indulgent, with all the hallmarks of Gary’s expertise, you will be amazed that it came out of your own kitchen and not some fancy restaurant.
However, where Maclean’s box takes the edge is with its extremely generous portion sizes, properly reminiscent of a hearty Christmas meal around the dinner table as opposed to the minuscule morsels often associated with high-end dining.
The main course again does not disappoint, a Wellington of either vegetables or Scotch beef wrapped in flaky, golden pastry and served with the king of potatoes, a creamy dauphinoise.
The accompanying peppercorn sauce was almost drinkable, while a side of shredded cabbage and carrot adds a welcome freshness to the dish.
A homemade Christmas pudding chocolate fondant with Katy Rogers’ creme fraiche rounds of the menu, in one final moment of festive indulgence.
A deceptively simple recipe made all the more accessible by Gary’s expert guidance, dessert is made all the sweeter by the fact even the most novice of bakers will be able to recreate this at home.
And therein lies the real appeal of the Festive Cookalong, it’s all the glory of the Christmas kitchen with none of the stress. The food is fantastic, but it’s also a great chance to come together – even if just within your household – and share in the joy of cooking.
Starting at £79, the boxes are also great value when you consider you’re getting a three course meal largely prepared by one of the top chefs in Scotland. There’s also the chance to upgrade to include some festive fizz to make the cook even more special.
Speaking about his new launch, Gary said: “I’m extremely passionate about home cooking and my new Festive Cookalong will help people create the ultimate dining experience at home.
“You don’t need to be a Masterchef to recreate fine dining, all you need is great produce and a helping virtual hand to guide you through cooking each dish.”
Gary Maclean’s Festive Cooklaong is available now until 8th January via Itison.