Maybe because they’re based in Southie, the roughneck Boston neighborhood better known for harboring the buried good intentions and rock hard abs of Will Hunting, KO Catering and Pies makes a point of explaining itself—and its wares—to its customers. What’s a KO pie? “A shortcrust base encases a delicious meat or vegetable filling under a crisp puff pastry top,” says the website. Or, in KO short form—which is also scrawled all over the funky little restaurant’s walls, alongside jars of vegemite and meat pie hieroglyphs—“It’s a pie, mate!”
That might seem like cheeky Ozzie shorthand, but it actually goes to the heart of Chef-owner Sam Jackson’s philosophy, perhaps best captured in the double entendre of “KO.” “It stands for two things in my mind,” says the Australian-born chef. “The first is the Knock Out,” i.e., “the food will put to rest your hunger” like some kind of welcome sucker punch to the gut. The second meaning comes from Aussie slang term “Ken Oath,” which means “reaffirming your admiration for something, including how much you may have liked your meal.”
Tasting the pie—ours was the classic lamb pie, made with Australian lamb—you may find yourself making a “Ken Oath” without knowing it (pronounce it “kin ahyth,” for maximum authenticity). It’s no wonder the Braised Lamb Shank meat pie is a mainstay on the KO menu. Jackson infuses the lamb with a dry marinade of paprika, cumin, and rosemary before treating it to a classic red wine and beef stock braise (spa treatment for rich meats). More fresh rosemary, green beans, and braised vegetables round out the pie filling, which is then lovingly tucked into a buttery pie crust. Add some egg wash, a kiss of fresh thyme, and 35 minutes in the oven and you’ve got a meaty, flaky, savory staple to be reckoned with. (If you’re really hungry, we recommend double-fisting. They’re handheld, after all.)
So even if your Easter plans don’t to involve a trip to Southie—or if you’re looking for a holiday lamb fix that doesn’t require white napkins, polite chit chat, and the coordination of pastel separates—Australian lamb pie might be just the thing. Like Jackson says, it’s “five inches of handheld goodness,” a clear winner among the mix of Southie locals and happy expats who regularly make the trip for their Ken Oath fix.