Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jive, He Said

Jive, He Said
The Two Best Places to Order a Turkey for Thanksgiving in New York City
You love turkey, but cannot deal with the hassle (or simply do not have the time) to completely prepare one yourself. Let's face it, New Yorkers are always on the run. So, go with ordering it in!

How To Carve A Turkey

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jerk Saturdays

Now at Jive Turkey Authentic Jamaican style jerk chicken with festival made famous on the cliffs of Negril at Jive Turkey on Saturdays through Sepetember.

Fried Turkey at Home - A Warning

Read More about the NYC Fire Department Warnings HERE

Frying Turkey, Tasty but Dangerous

By Jennifer Lee

This article first appeared in the New York Times Blog

Deep-fried turkey has been hailed as the solution to a perennial problem of Thanksgiving: a dried-out roast turkey.

Deep-fried turkey is juicy and quick. Emeril Lagasse and Martha Stewart have endorsed it. It’s a Thanksgiving tradition with a kick. It’s also an incredible fire hazard.

The turkey fryers — which combine gallons of boiling oil, open propane gas fires and often unstable frames — can easily become flame throwers, fire safety experts say.

Because of the number of fires and burns, national fire safety groups essentially urge people not to fry turkeys. The city’s Fire Department has issued a warning about turkey fryers. And Underwriters Laboratories, a nonprofit group that gives safety certifications for everything from hair dryers to space heaters, has refused to put its UL saftey mark on any deep turkey fryer.

“There are no UL listed turkey fryers because the turkey fryers on the market do not have the level of safety features we deem necessary,” said John Drengenberg, a spokesman for UL.

Most turkey fryers are essentially a large pot over sitting on a frame over an open propane flame, he explained. Most don’t have thermostat controls, and there are situations when the hot oil can spill over into the fire. “Then you’ve got something like a vertical flame thrower in your hands,” he said.

To highlight the hazards, UL has made a video starring Mr. Drengenberg, who was leery when the cameraman told him to stand closer to the deep fryer.

A common problem is that people misjudge the amount of oil needed, not allowing room for the turkey to be placed inside. But even when the oil is at the right level, a partial frozen turkey can also cause hot oil to spew a jet of fire.

“When a turkey is still partially frozen, that means there is still ice under the skin of the turkey,” Mr. Drengenberg said.

The ice turns to water and then to steam, and the only way that it can escape is by becoming a bubble in the hot oil. “It will blow out of the turkey fryer and takes hot oil with it,” he said.

The oil then often splashes down into the fire below. (Thawing in a refrigerator takes about 24 hours for every five pounds of turkey.)

He said that manufacturers have approached them about the certification, but UL has been clear that the fryers will not get certification unless they change significantly. Mr. Drengenberg did note that some manufacturers have been using sturdier frames, which are less likely to tip over.

Of course, even Mr. Drengenberg acknowledged that fried turkey tastes great. “Our recommendation is go to a restaurant that serves fried turkey,” he said. “They have bigger turkey fryers. They are experts. They are professionals.”

Indeed, Jive Turkey in Brooklyn was created with that mission in mind, said Arika Westbrooks, the 37-year-old founder, who started frying turkeys in her backyard.

“It was illegal — I don’t know I realized it at the time,” she said. “When I started doing this, I wanted a way to make it safe to get fried turkey.”

For the past five years, she has been serving deep-fried turkey all year around, with flavors like cajun, Jamaican jerk, buffalo and lemon pepper.

“They come out juicy and moist. It’s almost a velvety texture,” she said.

While she sells deep-fried turkey all the time in the form of turkey sandwiches, single wings, and single legs, Thanksgiving is the restaurant’s peak season, with approximately 4,000 turkeys sold for the holiday. The price for a turkey jumps to $75.50 and up, from $53.50, for the holidays.

To meet the demand, Ms. Westbrooks ramps up her staff from around five to 20 and keeps the kitchen open for 24 hours a day for a week with 12-hour morning and evening shifts. Each turkey takes 18 to 24 minutes to fry, a fraction of the roasting time for a turkey.

About 40 percent of their sales are now outside New York. Jive Turkey ships fully fried — refrigerated, not frozen, because that changes the flavor, she said — turkeys by overnight delivery. The turkeys are placed in a foam cooler and include a special bag to reheat the turkey in the oven, without drying it out.

Ms. Westbrooks said that a deep-fried turkey is good refrigerated for about four days, so people can come early. But the peak is on Thanksgiving Day, when doors open on at 9 a.m. They don’t take advance orders. “It’s on a first-come, first-served basis,” she said.

The store officially closes at 3 p.m., though they continue cooking away to serve all the customers who have arrived at that point. “We figure if by 3 o’clock if you haven’t figured out where you are getting your turkey on Thanksgiving Day, you might not be,” she said.

Then the Jive Turkey workers go home for their own Thanksgiving dinners (fried turkey, of course).

She added, “We are not open the day after Thanksgiving.”

It is the best of times, it is the most exhausting of times

Jive Turkey owner is Miss Thanksgiving!

The Brooklyn Paper

For Aricka Westbrooks, owner of Jive Turkey, where deep-fried turkeys are the signature (heck they’re the only) dish, the week before Thanksgiving should be highlight of the calendar. And it is — for all of Westbrooks turkey-scarfing customers.

Starting on Tuesday and continuing through the Nov. 27 holiday, Westbrooks’s Fort Greene restaurant has been in a constant state of alert. The phone literally does not stop ringing from the shop’s 9 am opening time until its 10 pm closing. Turkey fry cooks are operating round-the-clock on two, 12-hour shifts.

Even Westbrooks’s mother, Alice, has flown in from Chicago to help manage the crowds and work the door when the lines start forming (in other words, be nice to Alice if you want turkey).

“I’m not complaining because Thanksgiving gives us the exposure that lasts all year,” said Westbrooks, now overseeing her fifth holiday at her Myrtle Avenue take-out joint. “But it’s bittersweet because where I come from, Thanksgiving was always such a family holiday. Now, I work so hard before Thanksgiving Day that I just about collapse on Thanksgiving night.”

She collapses so you don’t have to, making Westbrooks a veritable patron saint of America’s true national holiday (no wonder she ships her deep-fried birds all over the country).

“It is a great holiday and I’m thrilled to make it a happy one for people,” she said. “Let’s face it, no one likes to cook a turkey when the house is full of people you’d rather be talking to.”

The goal when Westbrooks started in 2003 was certainly not to ruin her own Thanksgiving, but to find a niche in New York’s competitive ethnic and comfort food market.

Seeing a complete lack of deep-fried turkey restaurants in the city, Westbrooks made a decision that others had clearly considered madness: she opened a deep-fried turkey restaurant.

“Just because no one had opened a deep-fried turkey restaurant didn’t mean that there wasn’t a market for it,” she said. “Once you have a deep-fried turkey, you know how good a turkey can be.”

Westbrooks’s background is in marketing, so once she came up with the food — turkey — and the name — Jive Turkey — this thing marketed itself. Now the walls are covered in tributes from customers, newspapers and national magazines — plus the ubiquitous proclamations from Borough President Markowitz (bet you didn’t know that Aug. 4, 2003 was “Jive Turkey Opening Day in Brooklyn”?)

She started with one fryer. Now she has six, all bubbling and hissing day and night, birthing moist, insanely flavorful birds every 20 minutes.

Do the math: That’s simply not enough fryer capacity to keep the lines from forming next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Worse, once people get on line, they tend to call friends on their cellphones — and the friends add on their own requests.

“By the time they get up to the front of the line, their order has gone from one peach bourbon turkey to a peach bourbon turkey, a Cajun turkey and two Jive Turkeys,” said Alice Westbrooks.

The Westbrooks aren’t the only people who long for the quieter days this time of year.

“I come in here five times a week,” said David Washington, a regular who lives and works in the neighborhood. “The taste is truly unique — juicy and delicious.

“But I never come in during Thanksgiving!”

Jive Turkey [441 Myrtle Ave., at Waverly Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 797-1688] does not take advance orders. Store is open 9 am–10 pm in the week before Thanksgiving and 9 am-3 pm on Thanksgiving Day. Lines are long. Prepare accordingly. Turkeys are $75.50–$88.50 during the holidays.

Jive Turkey is On Serious Eats

Meet & Eat: Aricka Westbrook, Jive Turkey

20081124ArickaWestbrooksJiveTurkey.JPGWe caught up with entrepreneur Aricka Westbrook during the height of her busy season. The owner of Jive Turkey in Clinton Hill is churning out thousands of deep fried turkeys in fifteen varieties to ship all over the country for a Thanksgiving dinner not to be missed.

Name: Aricka Westbrook
Location: Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
Occupation: Owner of Jive Turkey restaurant and mail order company.

When was the first time you had a deep-fried turkey? I made my first turkey in my backyard in Brooklyn and had a party! It was devoured by friends and I knew I had a hit!

How many turkeys do you sell during the Thanksgiving season? What's the most popular variety? This year we are on track to sell a record 3,500 birds, the most popular is peach bourbon.

Any tips for someone who wants to attempt to deep-fry a turkey in New York City? It's illegal to do it with the standard backyard equipment in New York City, which I didn't know when I started, but because it is impossible to put out any possible fire that could start, I would avoid it.

Favorite comfort food? Mashed potatoes, gravy and fried turkey!

Guilty pleasures? A fresh chocolate covered custard filled doughnut from Lord's Bakery in Flatbush.

Food you won't eat? None.

Describe your perfect meal. One where I want to go home and attempt to recreate the recipe again and again, it was so good!

Most memorable New York City meal? Dinner at Mercer Kitchen on a busy night when the food, drinks and service were all in sync.

Best pizza in the city? Pinos La Forchetta in Park Slope on 7th Avenue, Grandma's Slice.

Favorite burger? Soda Bar on Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights.

Favorite bagel? Everything bagel with onion, tomato, cucumber and lox cream cheese at Bergen Bagel on Bergen Street in Prospect Heights.

Best late-night eats? I go to Soda Bar and get that burger!

Undiscovered gem? Hanco's Vietnamese Sandwich Shop on Bergen Street in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

Any favorites in Clinton Hill, near Jive Turkey? When I don't eat at Jive Turkey, which I do a lot, I visit Luz, Chez Lola, Choice Market and Zaytoons.

Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? Joan Hamburg of WOR, she had me on her show a couple of years ago and I call her for recommendations all the time.

What's the best recommendation she has given you? We went to Brasserie 8 1/2 at 9 West 57th for a Christmas Dinner. I loved it.

Jive Turkey

441 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn NY, 11205 (on Waverly; map)

Serious Eats post and reader comments can be found HERE

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jive Turkey on TV!

Let's share a behind the scenes look at the taping of Jive Turkey for the Neelys!For this segment in a show called Road Tasted the Neelys, a couple who host their own show on the Food Network came in to film a segment with me and what else... Fried Turkey.

Thank you to the Neeley's who were a delight to meet and work with and to Follow Productions for doing a wonderful job with their research and planning for the shoot. I am looking forward to seeing the edited segment for the show, which began airing in October 2009, just in time for Thanksgiving.

The honey pecan fried turkey,the star of the show!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer Drinks

Since opening in 2003 Summertime has been special at Jive Turkey because it is when we roll out a selection of seasonal beverages which we make from real fruit juices, purees and syrups.

The always popular selections satisfy customers who stop in for a bite or quench their thirst on their way to the park.

Mango Lemonade, Ginger Mint Lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade, Watermelon Lemonade, and Lemonade with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Sweetened Iced Tea with Lemon, Unsweetened Iced Tea, Pomegranate Iced Tea


Iced Coffee with Milk

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Orange Zinfandel Turkey - One of our Favorites!

The Orange Zinfandel Turkey is one of our favorites around here. While we don't get Seville Oranges in Brooklyn they are very popular and easy to find in the markets in Paris.

Marmalade made from these oranges are perhaps my favorite of all jams and jellies to make and eat and it is very easy to make your own marmalade with a brand-new, revolutionary technique found HERE.

You might be interested to know that Seville Orange Marmalade was created because of an error. Apparently an Englishwoman in 1700, the wife of a grocer, was stuck with some sour oranges that were bought cheaply from a boat that was carrying them from Seville. Since there was a storm, they wanted to get rid of their stock or oranges quickly, so the grocer bought them. But they were inedibly sour so his wife decided to try making jam from then, and viola!...Seville Orange Marmalade was invented.

A wonderful compliment to our fried turkey, orange marmalade is used in the glaze that creates the Orange Zinfandel Turkey.

Seville Orange Marmalade

Two quarts

Adapted from Room For Dessert (HarperCollins)

This was recently updated to include a pre-boiling of the orange pieces, simmering them in water until cooked through as some varieties of sour oranges tend to be resistant to cooking, and the pre-boiling ensures they'll be fully cooked.

6 Seville oranges (which can often be found in markets around the world in the mid-winter)
1 navel orange
10 cups (2.5 liters) water
pinch of salt
8 cups (1.6 kg) sugar
1 tablespoon Scotch (optional)

1. Wash oranges and wipe them dry. Cut each Seville orange in half, crosswise around the equator. Set a non-reactive mesh strainer over a bowl and squeeze the orange halves to remove the seeds, assisting with your fingers to remove any stubborn ones tucked deep within.

2. Tie the seeds up in cheesecloth or muslin very securely.

3. Cut each rind into 3 pieces and use a sharp chef's knife to cut the rinds into slices or cubes as thin as possible. Each piece shouldn't be too large (no more than a centimeter, or 1/3-inch in length.) Cut the navel orange into similar-sized pieces.

4. In a large (10-12 quart/liter) stockpot, add the orange slices, seed pouch, water, and salt, as well as the juice from the Seville oranges from step #1. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook until the peels are translucent, about 20 to 30 minutes.

(At this point, sometimes I'll remove it from the heat after cooking them and let the mixture stand overnight, to help the seeds release any additional pectin.)

5. Stir the sugar into the mixture and bring the mixture to a full boil again, then reduce heat to a gentle boil. Stir occasionally while cooking to make sure it does not burn on the bottom. Midway during cooking, remove the seed pouch and discard.

6. Continue cooking until it has reached the jelling point, about 220F degrees, if using a candy thermometer. To test the marmalade, turn off the heat and put a small amount on a plate that has been chilled in the freezer and briefly return it to the freezer. Check it in a few minutes; it should be slighty jelled and will wrinkle just a bit when you slide your finger through it. If not, continue to cook until it is.

7. Remove from heat, then stir in the Scotch (if using), and ladle the mixture into clean jars. Sometimes I bury a piece of vanilla bean in each jar. (Which is a great way to recycle previously-used or dried-out vanilla beans.)

I don't process my jams, since I store them in the refrigerator. But if you wish to preserve them by canning, you can read more about the process here.

Cooked To Perfection Campaign & Jive Turkey

Inspired by a desire to help the community of North Brooklyn reduce the incidence of diabetes and get healthy, Woodhull Hospital has created a nostalgic collection of healthy recipes that reflect neighborhood family cooking traditions. Cooked to Perfection: Cherished Family Recipes That Are Good For You features old family recipes donated by seniors from local centers, and made healthier through the hard work of a team of doctors from Woodhull Hospital, and nutritionists, culinary faculty and students at the New York City College of Technology. These recipes, in both English and Spanish, include everything from traditional Polish dishes to various Latino delicacies and soul food, in a beautiful full color layout.

Jive Turkey will also be joining the effort by adding one of the cookbook items to their menu. In addition, the hospital will offer “Cooked to Perfection Health Bucks” for $2.00 discounts on any Cooked to Perfection item offered at the participating restaurants. Area seniors can get the cookbook at one of the 11 senior centers in the North Brooklyn community. Copies of the cookbook will also be given to Woodhull patients with diet restrictions in the hospital's Geriatric Wellness Center and diabetic patients in the Primary Care Clinic.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Jive Turkey carries the very popular brand of Boylans bottled soda. We think it's great flavor enhances the deliciousness of our turkey.

Dubbed as the "vintage soda pop" Boylan's has been around for over one hundred years. Caffeine free and sweetened with pure cane sugar is what gives Boylan's it's own unique taste. Our customers find it to be unmistakeably refreshing.

With a variety of flavors to choose from including: Black Cherry, Creme, Grape Rasin, and Creamy Red Birch Beer are just some of the different sodas we offer.

This is what a beverage reviewer had to say about Boylan's

"The thick glass bottles ensure freshness and proper levels of carbonation."

Come in today to Jive Turkey and try one, you'd be glad you did. And don't forget to have some fried turkey while you are here!

BCHS Benefit & Jive Turkey!

The Brooklyn Community Housing and Services Inc(BCHS) held the Seventh Annual “Fashion on Fulton and Friends” Benefit on June 2nd,2009 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music(BAM) at 30 Lafayette Ave.


Jive Turkey is honored to support such an event that brings awareness to end homelessness in our community with providing needy families with housing and other basic services. Jive Turkey donated a Jive Turkey Feast to the silent auction for the event. The feast includes a fried turkey, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, yam brulee, sauteed green beans and turkey gravy. The feast is valued at $200.

Aricka Westbrooks, Jive Turkey owner is on the board of BCHS.

For more information on this event and how you can donate to support the programs and services provided by BCHS you can call 718-222-1808 ext 2132 or email Benefit@bchands.org

Thank you BCHS for allowing Jive Turkey to be a part of such a special occasion.