Since August, I have noticed something interesting happening to the comments I receive on this site. Around that time, this blog’s Google rating increased dramatically and I got a lot of new visitors.
Obviously this was good in many ways. I got lots of new commenters. Some left constructive feedback in my inbox and some left appreciative notes regarding recipes. Unfortunately this happened quite rarely and it seems that a lot of the people brought here by Google searches are illiterate morons.
I’m sure that my fellow bloggers experience the same problem: you look through your moderation queue and there are ten comments saying things along the lines of “EWWW BUTTERS!!!!” “LOL ROFL LMAO!!!” and “OMFG OOOOOEEEEEE!!!!”
After a few week I became a little sick of having to manually delete this rubbish so Goon has helped me to install a new feature as part of my spam filtering for this blog. It’s called the idiot-auto-rejector. It checks a comment for bad grammar/lack of real words and then blocks any offending commenter from the site.
The interesting thing is that, in its test stage, the idiot-auto-rejector didn’t just pick up random surfers. Some of my year 9 students had found the blog. Apparently the few of them who tried to comment don’t know how to write in sentences. I feel really sorry for our English department.
Clearly I’m not going to excuse poor writing in my comments box just because it is written by one of my students. I think they should know better. However, I did install a little extra feature in the idiot-auto-rejector just for them. When they try to access my site now they will see this message. Click on the link.
I’d have liked to put down something more offensive but I thought some parents might get cross. The irony is that I let Goon make that picture and as a result the grammar in the message is pretty bad, although it doesn’t hold a candle to my students’ efforts.
Of course, I’m also using my old secret weapon for disuading idiots from accessing the site: grossing them out with offal. So as the first proper food post I’ve made in a while, I bring you ox tongue.
Now that should have properly scared them off. Sadly that wasn’t my ox tongue although it is a good likeness. It came from a general web search as I am very bad at remembering to photograph things before I cook them. It’s big isn’t it? That’s about six main meals worth of meat. Goon cut our tongue into three pieces and a third was made into this.
It’s a very simple dish, so simple in fact I’m not convinced it needs a recipe, but it is a good way to be introduced to the flavour and texture of ox tongue. Since it was my first time cooking tongue, I specifically wanted to make something where I wouldn’t risk losing its flavour within a sauce, so I braised it on its own and then paired it with something that I hoped would complement it well.
This meat works well with piquant flavours which here are given by the sweetness of the tomatoes and the acidity of the red wine and a touch of balsamic vinegar.
Braised Ox Tongue on Penne with Tomatoes, Peppers and Red Wine
To prepare the tongue:
You’ll need 1/3 ox-tongue, 1 onion peeled and sliced into thick rings, 2 bay leaves, 5 crushed black peppercorns, 5 peeled cloves of garlic and a bouquet garni.
Ox-tongue is generally sold salted. So it is a good idea to give it a good long soak. We soaked ours for about 12 hours, changing the water every now and again.
Take a pan large enough to easily hold the tongue and put in the onion, garlic peppercorns, bay leaves and bouquet garni. Add the tongue, cover it with water and bring to a gentle simmer.
Simmer until the tongue is tender. This might take four hours if you are using a whole tongue. The third that we used took about two and a half hours.
Once the tongue is cooked, keep it warm until ready to serve.
For the red wine and tomato sauce
- olive oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- handful of basil leaves, torn
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 2 green peppers, cored deseeded and thinly sliced
- 300ml good quality red wine
- balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to taste (about two teapoons of vinegarand one teaspoon of sugar).
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 200-250g dried penne, cooked and drained
- Soften the onion gently in the olive oil.
- Add the garlic and, once that has cooked through, add the peppers and allow these to soften for about five minutes- the idea is that they retain some of their crunchy texture. Remove them from the pan.
- Now add the tomatoes and the red wine, bring to a gentle bubble and allow to reduce while you cook the pasta.
- Stir through the torn basil and return the peppers to the pan.
- Add sugar and balsamic vinegar to taste. Adjust seasoning and stir in the cooked penne
- Serve the sliced tongue over the penne. I found that sauteed courgettes made a good accompaniment to this meal.