Aussie Lamb and Beef lovers, meet Chef Sam Jackson, a True Aussie and owner of KO Catering and Pies in Boston. Sam brought an iconic food from his Aussie homeland – the meat pie – to the denizens of South and now East Boston with a second location. There were some awkward getting-to-know-you days in the beginning. “People would wander in and ask for a blueberry pie,” says Sam. But this October will mark five years since those early days, and after a lot of working the streets and the culinary scene in Boston, one pie at a time, both Sam and KO Pies have been fully embraced by the locals and numerous expats in Boston. According to Sam, his customer counts have tripled in those few years.
“In Australia, a pie is our burger,” explains Sam. “It’s comfort food, and it’s everywhere, even at gas stations,” he admits. Today the lamb pie is a number two seller (behind only the ground beef original), and it wasn’t always on the menu. “One of the things that shocked me about the States was how little you’d see lamb at the market. Back home it’s everywhere, and something we just expect to throw on the grill, or put in a stew or pie.”
When the lamb shank pie – naturally made with True Aussie lamb – did break onto the menu at KO, it was an instant hit, even making an episode of Adam Richman’s “Man Finds Food” on the Travel Channel. “I can tell the story of how Aussie lamb is pasture raised, how the animals are younger, and show people that there’s nothing gamey about Aussie lamb.”
Sam’s proud to represent his homeland in his choice of meat, of course, but it also just makes sense. “All the focus on local is great, but here in the Northeast you’ve got expensive land, brutal winters; it’s not a recipe for producing great lamb at a price that a pie shop can afford,” says Sam. “I wanted that pure, sweet, clean flavor from back home, as well as the the kind of consistency and affordability that I can get from Australia.”
So what’s the secret to getting Bostonians and Americans in general to go for lamb, or cook it at home? “Just treat it like your other favorite proteins,” says Sam, “if you like chicken parm, do that with lamb. If you like Asian flavors, like stir-fries or soy-ginger salmon, do that with lamb. And of course, have a pie!”
More than just versatility, Sam also recommends that you always rest your lamb after cooking – cutting into it too soon will release those juices that make lamb moist and tender.