De-Jred serves up mouth-watering Jamaican dishes
Delroy Powell is owner and head chef of De-Jred Fine Jamaican Cuisine in Skokie. | Lee A. Litas~Sun-Times Media
De-Jred Fine Jamaican Cuisine
4901 Oakton St., Skokie
Hours: 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; Noon–6 p.m. Sunday; Closed Monday.
Updated: August 22, 2012 2:04PM
Don’t let the spelling of its name trip you up. De-Jred, the Skokie locale featuring fine Jamaican cuisine for the past three years, is simply the urban transliteration for “the dread” — as in dreadlocks.
Though not unique to Jamaica, the iconic roped locks popularized by legendary figures like singer Bob Marley are instantly recognizable and often associated with Jamaican culture and Rastafarians.
Precisely the reason De-Jred owner and head chef Delroy Powell chose it. “We speak Patois, it’s like our broken English, so I tried to make it sound a little bit Jamaican,” explained Powell.
The colors of the traditional Jamaican flag flank the walls of the otherwise unassuming eatery. “The red, gold and green are the colors of the Rastafarian,” said Powell.
Originally from the hills of Mandeville, situated between Kingston and Montego Bay in Jamaica, Powell has been stateside for 33 years. A designated cook for his friends on the weekends, “I always said when I retire I am going to do a restaurant,” said Powell. Leaving corporate life in the dust three years ago, that’s exactly what he did.
Specializing in oxtail and goat, patrons will also likely find staples of other cultures, like plantains on the menu.
“We people from third world countries (like) Puerto Rico, Cuba and other Caribbean countries, we all eat basically the same kind of food,” he said.
When it comes to Jamaican cuisine, you can’t get more traditional than Jerk chicken. Powell lets his marinade for several days so the Scotch Bonnet chili peppers (similar to habaneros) and allspice really seep in. Then he bakes his chicken for two hours at 350 degrees for a fall-off-the-bone, 3-alarm finish.
“This is how they like to cook chicken in Jamaica. This way it’s more juicy and it doesn’t get burned,” said Powell. Served with traditional accoutrements of red beans and rice, sautéed cabbage and, of course, fried plantains ($6 small / $9 large/$10 white meat), the dish will stave off nostalgia until your next trip to the island.
Another traditional dish is oxtail and butter beans. Slow cooked to a cotton-like consistency, the meat is seasoned with onion, garlic, ginger, Scotch Bonnet chili pepper then topped with butter beans and dumplings. While not as spicy as the Jerk chicken, it builds up a steady head of steam ($13).
And Powell uses the whole goat for his curried goat dish seasoned with aromatic yellow curry ($13).
“C’mon over — we have a lot of stuff to offer and it’s the best Jamaican food,” Powell said.