102 - The Proof is in the Jerk
By Mary Luz Mejia
When I'm hankering for something hot and spicy, Albert Wiggam's juicy jerk chicken served up with rice and slaw more than matches my craving. Albert's Real Jamaican Foods, nestled in a strip mall on the corner of St. Clair and Vaughn, has been satisfying customers and cooking up a Caribbean storm for years.
His traditional Jamaican jerk chicken recipe starts with leg and thigh pieces of chicken (skin on), Walkerswood Sauce (an island favourite that's mildly sweet and subtly spiced), onions, pimentos, and a "secret" blend of Albert's own spice mix. The chicken is bathed in this marinade for approximately two days so that the flavour, as Albert says, "goes all the way to the bone."
Albert extols the virtues of slow oven cooking over barbequing, which is why he bakes the chicken in a medium-hot oven for about two hours. He theorizes about his method, boasting that the meat is always juicy and the skin stays intact. "Most of the flavour is in the skin," explains Albert, who goes on to say that when you grill a piece of jerk chicken, it can get dry and the skin falls off.
One succulent bite of his version and you'll realize that the flavours are all there, which is why Albert's is considered one of the very best in the city for Jamaican foods. When the heat-o-meter rises a bit too much, I wash the scorch away with some of Albert's own homemade ginger beer. Its pure liquid ginger in a bottle that's only mildly sweetened, and is the perfect fire extinguishing refreshment to accompany the robust goodness of the jerked meats.
Albert's Real Jamaican Foods
542 St Clair W.
photo credit: Mary Luz Mejia