Hungry Hound: BBQ restaurant talks turkey

February 13, 2009 12:23:50 PM PST
Chicago's South Side is littered with barbeque joints- but this one's a bit different and healthier.Most of them work exclusively with pork or beef products. But there's now a barbeque joint just south of the city focusing exclusively on turkey. Looks are deceiving because everything on the menu is intended to be just a little bit healthier than normal.

The similarities are remarkable: there's the aquarium-style smoker, filled throughout the day with hickory wood; there are gallons of semi-sweet and sticky barbeque sauce. There's even the standard plating procedure of ribs over fries and bread. But at Jive Turkey - located right off of I-57 at 127th Street - there is not a speck of beef or pork.

"Even though everything on our menu is turkey-based, it's not really monotonous...we have a range from tacos to nachos to burgers to links to barbeque; so it's pretty...a wide variety of different turkey products that we offer," said Greg Morton, owner of Jive Turkey.

Morton - along with his brother Brian - saw a niche, and they're filling it with all things turkey. There are turkey Polishes, even giant, semi-spicy hot links. What they call "ribs" are actually pieces of turkey butchered from the shoulder, keeping some of the bone intact, adding flavor without fat.

"A lot of people are trying to get leaner meats and stay away from a lot of the fatty meats like beef and pork and they're trying to just get the healthy kick," Morton said.

The "tips" have to be trimmed by hand, from the portions of the turkey containing dark meat. The bite-sized chunks are then slathered in a slightly-sweet Chicago-style barbeque sauce. Enormous turkey legs and wings are also available, but it's the unique "ribs" and tips Morton is most proud of, proving that barbeque can transcend the stereotype proteins of beef and pork.

"It's a noticeable difference, but like I said, a lot of people that have come in here haven't eat pork or beef in so many years and the number one thing they tell me is, finally they can eat barbeque again," said Morton.

Now I've seen everything from barbequed beef brisket and ribs, to pork shoulder and tips at a barbeque joint, but I've never seen any turkey coming out of an aquarium-style smoker; but as they say, there's a first time for everything.

Everything on the menu has a healthier slant, even the bread. While most barbeque joints offer only white bread, at Jive Turkey, it's all whole wheat.

Jive Turkey
1746 W. 127th St., Calumet Park