Rural and Environment

Alternative Christmas with the National Chef

December 11, 2019 by No Comments | Category food and drink

This Christmas Gary Maclean, Scotland’s National Chef, is encouraging people to consider making something new and tasty with Scottish produce.

Minister for Rural Affairs Mairi Gougeon (left) with Gary Maclean, Scotland’s National Chef (right)

If you are looking for some inspiration why not try making marinated Scotch Lamb, smoked haddock croquettes or a spicy carrot cake by following Gary’s alternative Christmas recipes?

Gigot of Scotch Lamb marinated in mustard, honey, lemon, fennel seed and rosemary with salt baked baby potatoes

“The marinade part of this recipe helps make it truly special. So, plan in advance – you need to marinate the lamb for at least two hours, but overnight is best,” Gary Maclean. 

Image credit Sean Cahill/ Black & White Publishing

Marinated Scotch Lamb:

4x 225g Scotch Lamb leg steaks, bone in gigot
4 cloves of garlic
4 tbsp honey
2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted
1tbsp Dijon mustard
5x rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
2 tbsp quality oil
1 lemon, juiced and zested
Sea salt and ground black pepper


1. Crush the garlic cloves to a smooth paste with a little sea salt.
2. Mix together the garlic, honey, mustard, rosemary, oil, lemon juice, fennel seeds and some freshly ground pepper in a shallow dish.
3. Add the lamb leg steaks, coat well and leave to marinate.
4. When you’re ready, preheat a non-stick pan or skillet. Lift the lamb steaks out of the marinade and shake off any excess.
5. Season with salt and pepper. Pan sear the lamb fillets for 5 minutes on each side, basting once or twice with the leftover marinade, until browned on the outside and slightly pink in the centre.

Salt baked potatoes:

1kg baby new potatoes
200g table salt
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme 30ml
quality oil
100ml crème fraiche
20g chives, chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Chop the rosemary and thyme.
3. Coat the potatoes with the oil and chopped herbs.
4. Pour the salt onto a baking tray then place the potatoes on top.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the potatoes are soft and have a crisp skin.
6. Mix the chopped chives and crème fraiche.
7. Cross the top of the potatoes, push up and top with your chive crème fraiche.

Smoked haddock, chive and mustard croquettes with leek and potato broth

“This is a recipe where kids enjoy getting hands on with all the elements of the ‘production line’,” Gary Maclean. 

Image credit Sean Cahill/ Black & White Publishing

Smoked haddock croquettes:

500g potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
25g butter
50g wholegrain mustard 300g smoked haddock, pale smoked is best
1/4 pack of chives, chopped
100g plain flour, seasoned 2 eggs, beaten with some milk
100g panko breadcrumbs 500ml milk


1. In a large pan cook your potatoes in cold salted water that you slowly bring to the boil. Try not to overcook as they will end up water logged, making the croquettes hard to work with.
2. Once cooked, drain the potatoes and allow to ‘steam out’ for a few minutes. Then place them back into the pot and put it back onto the stove on a low heat to dry them out.
3. Now add the butter and the wholegrain mustard, then mash. You can use a traditional potato masher, but you will get a much better result with a potato ricer.
4. Take the haddock and have a feel for bones. You sometimes find them running down the middle or at the sides at the top.
5. Place the haddock into a pan with the milk and slowly bring to the boil. Once the milk has come to the boil turn off the heat. Save the cooking liquor.
6. Before everything gets cold mix the fish into the potato mash, add the chives and check for seasoning.
7. Shape the mixture into a long sausage shape and cut to croquette size. You are now ready to coat in breadcrumbs.
8. You need three bowls: one with seasoned flour, another with the eggs and the milk, and lastly one for the breadcrumbs.
9. Start with the flour, roll the croquettes in it, then roll them in the egg and milk mixture and then the breadcrumbs. The theory is the flour will stick to the croquette, the egg and milk stick to the flour and the breadcrumbs to the egg and milk.
10. You are now ready to cook. You can shallow fry them, making sure you keep them moving, or you could spray them with a little oil and bake them in a hot oven at 180˚C.

Leek and potato broth:

100g white of leek, sliced and diced
1/2 onion, finely chopped 400g potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 cm
chunks 50g butter
50g double cream
1/4 pack of chives, chopped
50g wholegrain mustard Smoked haddock milk, as saved

1. Melt the butter in a deep pan, add the leek and onion and cook without colour for a few minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spatula.
2. Add the potatoes and the smoked haddock milk.
3. Bring to the boil and simmer until all the ingredients are tender. Try not to cook for too long as you want the potatoes to keep their shape.
4. Bring back to a simmer and finish with the double cream, mustard and a drizzle of white truffle oil and chopped chives and split between your dishes. To serve, top with the haddock croquettes.

Carrot cake

“I don’t know who first created carrot cake, but the addition of such a humble vegetable to a cake was a small act of genius,” Gary Maclean. 

Image credit Sean Cahill/ Black & White Publishing


4 eggs
300ml vegetable oil
200g caster sugar
200g light soft brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
350g carrots, grated
125g walnuts, chopped
125g butter, softened
200g cream cheese, softened
125g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 175°C.
2. Grease and flour two 20 cm baking tins.
3. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, both the sugars and the vanilla extract.
4. Next, sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, and mix in.
5. Stir in the carrots and fold in the walnuts.
6. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
8. Let the cakes cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
9. Now you need to make the topping and filling.
10. Combine the butter, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract, then beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
11. Use half the icing to sandwich the two cakes together and then spread the other half over the top of cake when it has cooled and decorate with chopped nuts if you wish.



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