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    Comfort from the Cupboard

    A vinegar, honey, and pickled mustard seed chicken from Hartwood chef Eric Werner’s newly released cookbook reminds us that staples from the pantry can be transformative and transportive.

    Most of my recipes that use pickled mustard seeds just use a little for tang and their caviarlike “pop.” That’s not the case here, where the mustard seeds are the star, used both in the marinade and the sauce. With just a few ingredients but manifold spicy-sour-sweet flavors, it’s a dish equally suited to a weekday dinner and a special occasion.

    Note: If you don’t have access to a grill, get a cast iron pan really hot on your stovetop and add a tablespoon of butter. Once the butter is melted, add the chicken pieces skin-side-down and cook until a nice crust forms. Flip the chicken and transfer the pan to a 420°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, basting occasionally.

    The Outdoor Kitchen, by Eric Werner and Nils Bernstein, is out now

    Butterflied Chicken with Pickled Mustard Seeds

    Serves 4 to 6


    Two 3- to 4-pound whole chickens
    2 cups Pickled Mustard Seeds (recipe follows)
    ¼ cup vinegar
    3 tablespoons honey, plus more for basting and to taste
    2 teaspoons salt, plus more for seasoning

    Recipe Preparation

    Wipe the grill grates with oil to prevent sticking. Build a high-heat fire. Your high-heat zone should have embers 1 to 2 inches from the cooking surface, with occasional flames licking it.

    To prepare each chicken, using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone and remove (your butcher can also do this for you). Place the chicken skin side up on the cutting board and apply firm pressure to the breastbone to flatten.

    Add 1 cup of the mustard seeds to a blender together with the vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the honey, and the salt, and blend until smooth. Toss the chicken with the marinade and refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Remove the chicken from the marinade, wiping off any excess, and discard the marinade.

    Grill the chicken, bone side down, over high heat for about 10 minutes. Flip the chickens, move to medium heat, and cook for another 30 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°F. You can flip the chickens occasionally while cooking to give even color. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, brush them with honey. Transfer to a cutting board and let the chickens rest for 10 minutes before carving into serving pieces.

    While the chickens are cooking, add the remaining 1 cup mustard seeds and the remaining 2 tablespoons honey to the blender and blend until smooth. Add additional honey and/or salt, if needed. To serve, smear the mustard seed puree on a large platter (or on 4 individual plates) and top with the chicken.

    Pickled Mustard Seeds

    Makes 2 cups

    These seeds can be used whole or pulsed to a coarse puree in a food processor with salt and honey to taste. I put them in almost any salad or sandwich or on top of grilled meat.

    Adapted from The Outdoor Kitchen

    Combine ½ cup each of yellow and brown mustard seeds (or use all yellow), 2 cups cider vinegar, and ¼ cup honey in a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often (add water if the liquid evaporates). Cool to room temperature and store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

    Eric Werner

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