We had a great time in Melbourne last week, cooking dishes alongside chefs from the very hip and happening Builders Arms Hotel at Fitzroy. And what an experience that was! The kitchen was manic (and we thought MKR was stressful), but it was great to see professionals passionate about what they do.

We were honoured to be asked to tweak the hotel’s modern Australian menu, giving it a Valerie-and-Courtney twist for three sittings. The result was a resounding success. The team loved what we came up with, as did the guests. Chef Kahlivia worked her magic to make sure the dishes were on point, and we learnt so much from her.

Our Sweetly Spiced Sauce – the one celebrity chef Curtis Stone judged the winner on MKR – forms the basis of our duck recipe this week. It is sold in Coles supermarkets around Australia and is so popular, the first lot sold out in 24 hours. The sauce is an old family recipe with more than 10 spices, which works well with duck as well as red meat, chicken, fish and vegetables.

So give this recipe for Braised Duck in Sweetly Spiced Sauce a go. It’s a bit fancy, but all the hard work is in the sauce, so it’s been done for you. It’s sure to impress your guests. If they ask what’s in the sauce, say it’s a family secret!

Get creative, give it your touch and let us know about it. We’d love to hear from you.

Braised Duck in Sweetly Spiced Sauce
4 duck Maryland pieces
1 bottle Valerie & Courtney’s Sweetly Spiced Sauce
Crispy curry leaves (toss 16 curry leaves in hot oil, fry until crisp and remove immediately so as not to burn. Set aside.)
Pickled chillis, sliced

Pour half the sauce on to the duck and marinade for as long as possible. Cover with foil and roast for about 30 minutes. Remove foil and let the duck crisp up for another 10 minutes.
Transfer juices from roasting pan to saucepan and add the rest of the sauce and heat through well.
Pour sauce into bowl, place duck in middle and garnish with curry leaves and sliced chillis.
We served this with roast potatoes and our fennel, orange and mint salad – delicious!

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