It’s no secret we like juice. Call it what you want, a health kick or just keeping things fresh in the kitchen, but we’ve been incorporating more grains, seeds and nuts into all our menus in Genuineland lately — whether featured in something hearty and satisfying like MGFD’s new Veggie Burger at lunch or unexpectedly as a garnish in salads at Harry’s Pizzeria. And you can’t get more fresh, simple, pure than juice. Roel Alcudia plates his crudo now with cold-pressed peas, asparagus, cucumbers and herbs at The Cypress Room.
Chefs Bradley Herron and Niven Patel are in Philadelphia with Michael for the Great Chefs Event, the annual summer gathering of chefs to support the Vetri Foundation and Alex’s Lemonade Stand. After scrapple, frita and whole roasted caja china pig, it’s time for a cleanse. Tonight’s offering? Warm wild king salmon with green juice, puffed rice, herbs. A big thank you to Breville for always coming to the table to support this event, this time with a juicer.
Before heading out of town, I asked Brad if I could visit his home and learn the basics of good juicing, both as a beverage and an ingredient in a dish. Lucky for me, the whole family was there — wife Marisa, and two little rascals Jaxon, 7 months and Dominic, 21 months, clearly feeling the benefits of a daily homemade juice regimen.
“I’ve been juicing every day since a little bit before Jaxon was born, so like 9 months,” Brad explains. “As a chef, I don’t really get to sit and get a vegetable meal in. I’ll taste the whole line. Chips and dip, thousand island… There was a time in my career when we’d go through 20 pounds of butter in a service, when I was a line cook back in California at this French-American place where 2 quarts of sauce equalled 4 pounds of butter. At Michael’s we use olive oil as our base fat for cooking. Butter is for bread service, the finishing the pastas, mashed potatoes and a little garlic butter on the bread for the chicken liver crostini.”
Brad alters between green, orange and red blends. He had the first summer mangos falling from his backyard Haden tree on the sill, so we made orange together. The chef 100 percent believes in the medicinal qualities each blend brings, whether it is the red and golden beets that help clean your blood by filtering the kidneys, or ginger, from which there are so many benefits, he doesn’t even know where to begin.
“We go through two quarts a day. I drink a quart, my wife will have a quart and Dominic will have a little bit,” he says. “The important thing with juice is that it’s balanced. So I’ll put a whole lemon and a banana in everything I make. We go through 5 a day. My favorite is green juice. Like really dark and chlorophylly. Marisa likes that the least.”
Brad explains that you should always start with banana first, that way the harder, juicier fruits and vegetables that follow will push the creamy purée through. Like the banana, apples are essential to every blend since they round out the other more intense flavors and bitter notes from ingredients like beet and carrot. He goes through about 10 pounds of apples a week. When Fuji are on sale, that’s his favorite. They go from $1.50/pound to $2.60/pound, so he sticks with regular bags of small juicing apples for $1/pound when they’re not. It’s smart to alternate soft and hard fruits and vegetables for the best extraction. The Herron’s Breville is fitted with a blade and centrifuge, not a pressurized mechanism that crushes and then presses the ingredients. At first he thought about a cold press model, but then bagged the idea in favor of his current machine’s efficiency and economy. There are arguments for both methods.
“I go to the market like three or four times a week. I buy so much stuff it’s crazy,” he continues. “The worst part of juicing is clean up ’cause you can’t clean as you go. I’ll save the pulp because there is still juice left in it. The fiber is like a bran alternative, so I make Dominic muffins. I wish I had a farm because I’d use it for compost. 1 pound of veggie scraps a day!”
Brad always has cooked grains in the fridge, packed in several quart containers from his massive cabinet stash. He favors quinoa and short grain brown rice from Whole Foods for its texture. On one of his favorite plates, 5.99 from Ikea (“They hold the juice!”) he composes the dish in layers right on it, in typical Brad fashion. There’s sliced cooked golden beets, shaved red onion, crushed pistachios, pumpkin seeds, cooked quinoa, torn mint and slices of frenso chili, a great fresh pepper for a little heat and a little sweetness. He likes a little sweetness in foods to add what he calls “a different kind of fat.” To dress, splashes of homemade kombucha, with a little extra-virgin olive oil, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Think of it as the vinegar in the vinaigrette. (“I don’t let it go until it’s fully acidic. There’s still some residual sugar or RS, as [Eric] Larkee would say…”) He recommends taking juice like the orange blend he prepared that day for me and cutting it with a little apple cider vinegar, as a substitute for the kombucha. This perfect light lunch of course takes all of 2 minutes to produce, thanks to his advanced planning and quart container hoard. Note to us civilians — this method is not just for chefs!
According to Brad, the secret to juicing is to not over-think it. But a little thinking doesn’t hurt. For the morning in pictures, see our album here.