BANJO & KAZOOIE - Honey & Huckleberry Barbecued Chicken Wings
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
The iconic bear and bird duo have finally returned from a long, long hibernation! Its rare to see a 20-year-old franchise continue to inspire as much passion and enthusiasm as Banjo-Kazooie! Despite not appearing in a game for over ten years, Banjo & Kazooie have remained enduringly popular, garnering a very dedicated fanbase.
I really wanted to emphasize both the “bear” and “bird” elements in this dish. Feathers and other bird-related iconography are ubiquitous in the Banjo-Kazooie games, so I thought wings were the best way to represent Kazooie (granted, Kazooie herself might not approve of eating chicken wings!) The homemade BBQ sauce conveys the essence of Banjo, bringing together a few ingredients eaten by real life grizzly bears: honey and wild berries! Honeycomb also happens to be a common item in Banjo-Kazooie, serving as the duo’s life metre - though you can't get your paws on the sweet stuff without first fighting off the vicious swarm of bees which guard the hives! Banjo himself is even transformed into a honeybee at one point in the game, so I knew that the sweetness of honey had to shine through in this sauce.
I felt that a barbecued dish really captured the outdoorsy, camping vibe of Banjo-Kazooie. Not to mention, after rescuing Banjo's younger sister Tooty from the wicked witch Gruntilda near the end of Banjo-Kazooie, the heroes celebrated by attending a barbecue organized by the friendly skull-faced shaman, Mumbo Jumbo! Well, Banjo & Kazooie's inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is certainly a cause for celebration, and what better party food than some fun and summery chicken wings? This is the type of food you'll want to eat out in your backyard, outside camping in the woods, or relaxing in the sun on the beach! So gather some friends, heat up the grill, and celebrate the triumphant return of these N64 icons!
3 lbs chicken wings (drums, flats, or both - your choice!)
4 cups water
¼ cup salt
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tbsp white vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
½ white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp grated ginger
3 cups huckleberries or other wild berries (blueberries, blackberries, cherries, or currants will work nicely as well!)
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 cup honey
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
Chopped scallions or chives for garnishing
Mix water, salt, brown sugar, white vinegar, and the juice of half a lemon in a large bowl to create a brine. Add chicken wings and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least two hours (better yet, brine the chicken the day before you plan on barbecuing and leave it in the fridge overnight!)
Heat up the olive oil in a pan and fry the onions until soft and translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook a few minutes until fragrant.
Add the berries, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, paprika, honey, maple syrup, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and the juice of the remaining lemon half to the pan. Generously season with salt and pepper. Simmer until sauce is bubbling and slightly reduced, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add to a blender and puree until smooth. Push through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any seeds. Taste and adjust for seasoning – if you want it sweeter just add some brown sugar or additional honey.
Remove chicken from brine and rinse under cold water; discard remaining brine. Cook on an hot oiled grill for 20 minutes, turning occasionally.
Transfer wings to a bowl and toss with the barbecue sauce. Grill for another 10 minutes until cooked through (a thermometer should register an internal temperature of 165°).
Drizzle with extra honey and top with chopped chives if desired. Serve with additional barbecue sauce for dipping.
TOP TIER TIPS
Experiment with different berries in your sauce and see which flavour combinations you enjoy the most!
If you prefer your wings spicy, just increase the amount of chili powder and paprika in the barbecue sauce!
This recipe will probably leave you with more sauce than is needed to coat your chicken wings. If you want to use it all at once and serve a large crowd, buy double the amount of wings. Otherwise, leftover sauce can be jarred and refrigerated, or stored in the freezer (I use large ziploc freezer bags) for later use.
These wings can also be baked in the oven rather than grilled. Spread out on a baking tray and cook in an oven preheated to 400° for 30 minutes. Brush or toss with barbecue sauce and return to oven for an additional 10 minutes. Check to make sure they reach an internal temperature of 165°!