“He said, “Captain.” I said, “Wot d’ya want?”
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Is it possible to be a member of the seminal UK punk band The Damned and yet still be known more for brilliant novelty pop? In the case of Captain Sensible, the answer is a definitive “YES.” Sensible played a variety of positions in Th Damned, but the reality is it’s the non-Damned recordings that are his musical legacy.
Consider “Jet Boy Jet Girl.” Elton Motello made a homoerotic track based on a Plastic Bertrand instrumental base that Sensible took and made radio-friendly. Disingenuous and & lazy? Perhaps but nonetheless sheer pop genius. Then there’s perhaps the “breakthrough” single “Happy Talk.” It’s a twee Brit-pop new wave cover of a key song from the musical South Pacific. I mean, come on, this just isn’t done, right?!?! And yet, it’s a stupidly brilliant piece of new wave pop theatre along the lines of “Puttin’ On The Ritz.” Which leads us to “Wot?” A clear hybrid of the cultural appropriation of “Jet Boy Jet Girl” (because that backing is clearly Chic inspired) with the tongue-in-cheek goofy pop of “Happy Talk.” The result remains one of my fave ’80s pop tracks.
When one is writing a recipe website, one spends a great deal of time monitoring food news streams and social media. Somewhere along the line, I read an article about Planet Hollywood having Cap’n Crunch coated chicken nuggets. That, of course, got me thinking about coating chickwheat nuggets in Cap’n Crunch and dusting with a Crunchberry Salt. Because, why not? My original plan was “crunch only” coating but then I decided to see how “crunch & crunch berry” coating would work. For the photo above, the back half is “crunch berry coated” while the front half is “crunch only.” In the end. “crunch only” is better though the crunch berry coating ends up being kind of low-rent falafel coating. And, yeah, crunch berry salt is definitely a thing.
SAY CAP’N! SAY NUGGS!
Chickwheat nuggets coated in Cap’n Crunch with spicy berry syrup
Makes about 40 nuggets
Making the nuggets
1 cups cooked chickpeas (cold, don’t use warm)
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup vital wheat gluten
Blend everything up to cider vinegar in a food processor until completely smooth. Combine with vital wheat gluten in a bowl, mixing completely, and let rest for 15 minutes.
Take the rested dough ball and knead for the length of Patrice Rushen’s “Forget Me Nots” (about 5 minutes) until the dough is warm, stretchy, and smooth.
Take the kneaded dough, tear or cut off pieces, and shape into nuggets. I go for about 1/2 ounce nuggets but you do you. Place them in a steamer basket, cover the pot with a lid, and steam for 50 minutes. Once steamed, remove from the basket and cool on a cooling rack. You may need to work in batches depending on the size of your nuggets. Let them cool completely, ideally overnight, before frying.
Frying the nuggets
1 cup of Ranch or Buffalo Ranch dressing (both vegan or non-vegan will work)
3 tablespoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon Gochugaru, Aleppo pepper, or red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups plain Cap’n Crunch, crushed (or 2 cups plain & 2 cups with Crunch Berries divided)
1-quart vegetable oil
Crunch Berries Salt
2 tablespoons Just Crunch Berries, crushed
2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
Make the Crunch Berries Salt by combining the crushed Crunch Berries and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Combine the Ranch dressing, hot sauce, and cider vinegar in a bowl and whisk to thoroughly combine. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, smoked paprika, onion powder, nutritional yeast, cumin, pepper flakes, and another generous pinch of salt. Mix the dry ingredients together to disperse the spices evenly throughout the flour.
Take a cast-iron or heavy skillet and pour vegetable oil in it until the oil comes 2/3 of the way up the sides. Place the pan over high heat to allow the oil to come up to around 350°F – when a pinch of flour is dropped into the oil at this temperature it should sizzle immediately. You can use a deep fat fryer instead if you have one.
Dunk the chickwheat nuggets, a handful at a time, first into the seasoned flour and then into the Ranch dressing mix, coating each one fully and then into the Cap’n Crunch to coat. Set the coated nuggets aside on a plate. Once all the nuggets have had a double coating of the flour mix, carefully lower them into the hot oil.
Reserve the Ranch mixture for use as a serving sauce.
Allow the nuggets to fry in small batches for 5-6 minutes, carefully flipping occasionally, until they turn a deep golden brown on all sides. Once cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer the nuggets from the oil to a cooling rack or plate lined with kitchen paper to soak up any excess grease. Sprinkle with the Crunch Berries Salt. Keep them warm in a 200°F oven.
SPICY BERRY HONEY
Makes about 1 cup
4 ounces fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons Rock Candy Jalapeno brine
1 tablespoon Rock Candy Jalapenos, fine mince
Place the raspberries and water in a blender and blend until pureed. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl, pressing with the back of the spoon to capture the seedless berry puree.
To make the honey, combine 3 tablespoons of the puree with the honey, brine, and minced jalapeno in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring to combine. Let it cool to room temperature before using it. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.