Turkey Barbecue: Hot in Eastern North Carolina

My cousin Sinclair Griffin Lee has alerted me to big news in the Bill’s vs. Parker’s rivalry in Wilson, NC.   There’s something new at Parker’s, at least on Wednesdays.   You can get turkey barbecue.  I’m not talking about smoked turkeys, but turkey cooked and served in the manner of Eastern North Carolina barbecue — chopped with vinegar and pepper.  The response has been enthusiastic,and they have sold out every time they’ve offered it.   http://wilsontimes.com/stories/There8217s-a-new-bird-in-town-8212-but-only-once-a-week,71566.   It sounds like it could move to the daily menu there.

I first heard about turkey barbecue recently from David Brody, a friend  of my brother Jim’s.  David was touting Lenny and VC’s Grill, the King of BBQ Turkey, in Dover, NC.   Lenny and VC’s offers little information about their place online.  https://www.facebook.com/Lennys-Vc-Grill-Catering-143416022371820/.  I gather from comments –all very positive — that they have real good vegetables, too.  You can learn more from the North Carolina Folklife Institute at http://www.ncfolk.org/king-of-bbq-turkey/.  Turkey barbecue developed to serve people who can’t (aren’t supposed to) eat pork because high cholesterol or other health problems, or, in the case of Jews and Muslims, religious prohibitions.   The Folklife people also point to Hickory Tree Barbecue in Greensboro and Herb Jones in Everett in Martin County as sources for turkey barbecue.  If you’re in Martin County you might as well head over to Sunny Side Oyster Bar for some oysters.  David Brody says it’s real good.

The key to good turkey barbecue seems to be the addition of a lot of red pepper.  Turkey is always at a disadvantage to pork in terms of flavor, but the red pepper helps it catch up.

I wanted to try Lenny and VC’s on the way to or from the beach this year, but we had a Sunday to Sunday rental, and they’re closed Sundays — and Dover is a long way to drive from the beach.  Maybe next year we can go a day early and spend the night in Kinston.  And next time we’re in Wilson, I’ll try some at Parker’s, probably a bite or two from Nancy’s plate while I stick with the pork and fried chicken platter.


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