Jive Turkey, THIS Bird Delivers
By: Aurora Nessly
When you think of a deep fried turkey establishment, New York City is not the first place to come to mind. Fried turkey has its roots steeped in Southern tradition and thrives in Louisiana, Georgia and Texas. However, even in the most unlikely places, if you fry it they will come. Aricka Westbrooks had a vision of giving city folk home-cooked American faire. She saw an opportunity in a market where urban dwellers much like her were searching for “things (they) ate at home but couldn’t buy here.” Seven years later she has a thriving business in Brooklyn and is shipping turkeys across the US.
With flavors ranging from sweet to savory to (our favorite) spicy, Aricka has developed fifteen mouthwatering deep fried turkey options. For a kick you can try her Jamaican jerk turkey that’s laced with scotch bonnet or her Cajun turkey that’s rubbed in a seasoned butter of cayenne, paprika and chile powder. There’s no holding back on the seasoning. After the marinating process, the birds are rubbed both under the skin and on top creating layer upon layer of flavor and a deeply satisfying texture. Not to mention the options for sides from a grilled corn and mango salad that is flecked with jalapenos to the scintillating yam brulee. Jive Turkey is a foodie’s oasis amidst the craze of city life.
So how do you become the deep fried turkey queen of Brooklyn? You first start with a backyard. Aricka began frying turkeys right outside her house, the safest option considering the process. She began like many culinary entrepreneurs—cooking for friends and family. As word spread it became obvious that Aricka wasn’t the only one yearning for these southern classics amidst the buzz of New York City.
Now this may seem a simple process to people who haven’t experienced the “joys” of urban living. For those of you used to car trips to the grocery store and double sized refrigerators and dare I say it dish washers AND extra freezers lets take a closer look. In New York City you pay three quarters of your paycheck to live in a box and brag to your friends that you have a window which you can crane out of at just the right angle to actually view the skyline. Throw in numerous ten to twelve pound turkeys and gallons of peanut oil and you are starting to taste this woman’s determination.
It takes a true love of turkey to scale your neighbor’s fence to save a bird close to overcooking. However, locked out of her yard and seeing “there was a turkey in the fire,” Aricka’s rescue instincts kicked in. Like a fireman out of a popular blockbuster she scaled that fence, saved the bird and consequently saved the day. As she says “there was always some kind of adventure.” Now that’s the kind of woman I want to have cooking for me!
Today, with seven years of experience at her back Aricka runs a tight ship. She handles over 3,000 turkeys just at Thanksgiving alone and regaled me how her store transforms during the holidays to accommodate “floor to ceiling turkeys.” I started to salivate. I had already tasted the jerk and the Cajun turkey and seen witness to the beauteous décor of the honey pecan. Not to mention the mouthwatering description of the BBQ turkey that is rubbed in a dry barbeque rub, fried and finished with a generous glaze of homemade barbeque sauce. Imagining around 3,500 custom made, seasoned and spiced turkeys just about sent me into a tryptophan induced revelry.
My previous experiences with deep fried turkey included a scene much like the one in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where by the time you sliced into the bird all that was left was a hollow cavity and a puff of smoke. I was in Savanna and rang in the holiday with assorted artists and writers who thought hot toddies and brandy Alexander’s were the perfect appetizers. Needless to say the bird was forgotten in its pool of bubbling oil. Then there was the tale of woe of my Uncle nearly setting his deck on fire at his attempts to deep fry his bird. So sitting in Jive Turkey as I ate my delicious sampler plate, I regarded Aricka the way one does a professional ball player. I had nothing on her. Simply content to be a spectator, I sat back and witnessed the under workings of this impressive avian operation.
If you want a piece of the action, show up at the restaurant: 570 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn, New York. You can enjoy a lunch of turkey sandwiches, salads, turkey meatloaf, crab cakes, BBQ ribs or even Cajun catfish. However if a trek to Brooklyn is not an option, simply order a deep fried turkey shipped right to your door. These birds ship overnight. Unlike other deep fried turkey companies, Jive doesn’t ship a frozen bird. A frozen turkey costs more in shipping and loses texture and flavor. Your jive turkey arrives in a box with refrigerants to keep it cool. Very detailed reheating instructions for the turkeys are tucked into the box and birds even come in their own oven bag to keep them moist. Talk about tender care. Check out their full menu at thejiveturkey.com. To order a turkey call 718-797-1688. This holiday season leave the frying to the pros, simply “grab, gobble (and) go.”