Kingsley’s King of the Turkey

If there are two things that Jeffrey Fisher knows better than most people it’s the meat business and how busy it can get around Thanksgiving. Opened in 1971 by his parents and owned outright by Fisher for the past 26 years, Kingsley Meats and Catering has become a hub in Louisville to get deliciously prepared food, purchase sumptuous meats and get all your best events catered. But there is one thing that gives Fisher a real rush is the hectic period leading up to Thanksgiving.

“We have two categories of people who come into the store,” explains Fisher. “Folks who want to do their own cooking and those who don’t. There are some who are in between and might want you to cook a portion of it – they might want to cook the turkey but not bother with the side dishes, but a lot of them want everything.”

But thankfully, this increased demand is something that Fisher and his team have become experts at meeting over the years.

“We have a hot bar here in the store and we do a lot of corporate catering, so cooking is something that we do all year long – but not that much all at one time.

Fisher continues: “Thanksgiving is complicated because we have a pretty varied menu here, and every single customer will want a slightly different breakdown of it. This guy wants three pounds of this and six pounds of that and a seven pound turkey, another wants a 12 pound turkey. Every single person is different, and that’s where the challenge comes in.”

In more recent years Fisher and his team have seen the arrival of the turducken, a concoction that involves meticulously deboning the stuffing from three different birds into one giant turkey.

“That came to town probably eight or nine years ago and came up from the New Orleans area. And, as you know, you debone a duck, a turkey, a chicken and put them in the turkey. The only bones are going to be the drum sticks sticking out of the turkey.”

But with the added poultry comes an extra challenge in cooking. Fisher recommends extra cooking time and that the bird(s) be stuffed with the Cajun stuffing they make in house.

“Cooking it takes longer,” explains Fisher. “When you’re cooking a turkey, it has an empty cavity in the center. The turducken does not; it’s solid, and it takes a good while to cook. A good tip is that you want to add a little bit of broth to start with, season it and rub it down with some olive oil … and roast it covered. Cook it at 325 degrees and it will take a good 35 minutes per pound. Just make sure you use a meat thermometer to ensure it is 165 degrees inside. And for the last 30 minutes, you want to uncover it to make it brown.”

With 1,000 turkeys sold last year, 250 of which were cooked, things got extremely busy at Kingsley Meats and Catering. And despite the chaotic nature of the work, there are times when Fisher misses the rush, when 1,000 turkeys in the space of a few days seems like nothing and he’s left wanting more.

“It’s interesting because we have been doing it for such a long time and it comes out great, but you always look out for and prepare for the thing that could make it go wrong. Some years you wake up the next day and it’s a bit of a letdown, and you think, ‘Oh man is it over?’ When the adrenaline goes away, it’s a bit of a letdown.”

Kingsley Meats and Catering is situated at 2701 Taylorsville Road, Louisville, KY 4020. For more information visit kingsleycatering.com or call 502.459.7585.

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune