The Pinery Country Club’s New Executive Chef Sarah Wills Adds Flair with New Menu Offerings

From the outside, the rustic yet luxurious charm of The Pinery Country Club appears to stand in stark contrast to new Executive Chef Sarah Wills’ four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. But spend a little time with her in the kitchen, and the similarities begin to show through.

“I thrive in the controlled chaos of the kitchen—the shouting, the heat, the demands,” Sarah says, standing in front of a searing hot pan, surrounded by industrial ovens and commercial equipment.

The precision required to please a discerning clientele and ability to perform under pressure arose out of her time working under an exacting Two-Star Michelin chef and demanding drill sergeants before taking on the job of overseeing all dining options at The Pinery. Sarah came to The Pinery in August from Bent Pine Golf Club in Vero Beach, Fla. She brings seasonal menus with modern yet classic flavors that differentiate The Pinery Country Club from the often overlooked and standard food offerings of many country clubs.

Featured here is her version of classic Airline Chicken from the fall menu. The breast is seared golden brown then finished in the oven until perfectly moist and tender. It is served atop tangy braised purple cabbage, roasted cauliflower caramelized to perfection and smoky sweet potato bacon hash. A drizzle of chicken demi-glace over the top finishes the dish. This simplified recipe for the home cook includes her sweet potato hash, and you can serve it at home with your version of roasted cauliflower and braised cabbage.

Serve with a Rodney Strong Cabernet to complement the richness of the demi-glace and cabbage.  

The Pinery’s Seared Airline Chicken Breast with Sweet Potato Hash and Chicken Demi-Glace

Airline Chicken

2 8-ounce chicken breasts (Ask your butcher for airline chicken breast, first joint of wing attached, skin on.)

Directions

In a hot sauté pan, add oil and wait for pan to get hot. Salt and pepper chicken breast. Put the chicken breast in sauté pan skin side down and cook until golden brown. Leave the chicken breast in hot pan and put in oven at 350 degrees. Remove from pan after 10 minutes and chicken breast is a beautiful golden brown. Put chicken breast skin side up on a pan with some water or chicken stock for moisture. Put back in the oven and cook until chicken is 165 degrees.

Sweet Potato Hash

4 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and medium diced 

1/4 cup white onion, small diced

1/3 cup raw bacon, diced

6 sprigs thyme

Directions

In a mixing bowl, add the sweet potatoes, oil, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, put on a sheet pan and roast in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until fork tender. In a sauté pan with medium heat, add a little oil, bacon and onions. Cook until bacon is soft and onions are tender. Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, add to the pan with bacon and onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add some butter if desired for more flavor.

Chicken Demi-Glace

2 cups dark chicken stock

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

Directions

Slowly reduce chicken stock by over half. When stock is reduced, add cold butter and stir until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.