Just Peachy

Joe West, executive chef at Stock Hill
Joe West, executive chef at Stock Hill

Chef Joe West pairs sweet and savory for a late-summer treat

When Palisade peaches from Colorado are in season, Joe West knows just what to do with them. The chef at the soon-to-open Stock Hill in the former Board of Trade building pairs the tangy sweet peaches with meltingly tender pork belly for a small-plates offering. Feel free to lick the plate.

It’s a dish that has been years in the making.

When other Prairie Village kids came home to peanut butter and jelly after school, West’s Japanese-born mother made him tempura-battered cuttlefish with Kewpie mayonnaise before heading off to work at Tatsu’s or Jun’s. “I grew up around the restaurant life,” he says. And with Asian influences.

At 16, West accompanied his mother to a James Beard dinner at The American; that experience galvanized his desire to be a chef. He trained at Broadmoor Technical Center in the Shawnee Mission School District, then went off to culinary school and restaurant kitchens around the country before coming back home.

Now, he’s in charge. In a restaurant kitchen, ”I like to pretend that I’m making a dish for the girlfriend I just met and give it 110 percent,” he says. “Spread that happiness.” This dish does just that.

WestJoe_3_ALPork ‘n’ Peaches

Serves 8 as an appetizer

For the pork belly

2    lbs. pork belly slab, skin on

2    cups soy sauce

2    cups mirin (sweet rice wine)

4    oz. Boulevard Bob’s 47 beer (drink the rest)

1½   cups sugar

1    Tbsp red miso paste

2    Tbsp fresh minced ginger

1    Tbsp minced garlic

4    green onions, white parts chopped (reserve green tops)

For the brioche croutons

Brioche bread, crust removed, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1/4    cup olive oil

For the peaches

3    peaches, peeled, pitted and each cut into 8 wedges

½    cup honey

1/4  cup champagne vinegar

1/8  cup reserved green onion tops, finely chopped

Freshly cracked black pepper

For the pork belly, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the soy sauce, mirin, beer, sugar, miso, ginger, green onion, and garlic. Pour into a 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Place the pork belly on top and cover with aluminum foil. Oven-braise the pork belly for 4 hours, or until tender. While the pork is braising, make the croutons. Remove the pork belly from the oven and let cool to room temperature for 1 hour.

For the brioche croutons, toss the bread cubes with the olive oil until evenly coated and arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.

For the peaches, whisk the honey and vinegar together until the honey dissolves. Stir in the peaches and green onion tops. Season with pepper.

To serve, slice the pork belly in half lengthwise and then across in 1/4-inch slices. Arrange the slices on each plate. Remove the peaches with a slotted spoon and place over the pork. Top with brioche croutons. If you like, drizzle with some of the peach marinade.