Hickory Tree Barbeque

by Terry Watson | November 20th, 2015
Mike Neal

Mike Neal

If anyone knows anything about North Carolina, they know when it comes to barbeque most natives are notoriously opposed to anything other than chopped, pork barbeque. In fact, some may go so far as to say it’s not really barbeque if it’s not pork.

However, according to Mike Neal the best barbeque begins and ends with the best in fresh birds – turkey that is. That’s right, turkey. Neal is certifiably a North Carolina native, Durham to be exact, but his loyalty belongs to the turkey. “Turkey BBQ is healthier than the pork alternative. Health issues that run in our community was the main inspiration to perfect turkey,” he says.

Neal is the owner and operator of Hickory Tree Turkey BBQ located in Greensboro. The takeout restaurant, food trucks, and catering service is quickly becoming the go-to spot for all things turkey barbeque. From pulled and chopped turkey to turkey ribs, to fried turkey to turkey crackling to turkey wings and chili, Hickory Tree is in the novel business of sumptuous turkey. Add in amazing and delicious sides (most with a unique smoked turkey flavor) such as collard greens, mac & cheese, baked beans and even turkey dip, Neal and his crew have turkey barbeque covered. They call it healthy, delicious and southern inspired.

The turkey is slowly smoked over hickory and oak wood and has a bit of an eastern style flavor. That’s about as much as Neal will divulge about his process and recipe. According to Neal turkey is an extremely versatile meat. Still some naysayers try to convince him otherwise, namely those who have never tried Hickory Tree. Moreover, all it takes is for patrons to get one taste and most are hooked; the method becomes all but insignificant.
It was never in his plans to become a restauranteur, but Neal says it just fell into his lap. He has always been a pitmaster in his own right, but admits there’s a big difference between cooking for fun than as an owner.

“It was never in the cards to have a barbeque business. I always barbequed and smoked for fun. It just so that the stars aligned. Something happened and all of a sudden I’m operating a turkey barbeque restaurant,” says Neal. “I always say there’s a bit of audacity one must have in order to

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