There used to be a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles called Little Joe’s. They were well known for their bolognese sauce and as many times as the Los Angeles Times tried to get the recipe out of them, they would only give the one for the spaghetti sauce. For years, I’ve been playing around this sauce trying to get it close to Little Joe’s and now I think I’ve done it.
There is no getting around this sauce a taking a long time to cook, but it’s worth every minute. The first two hours are for the buttermilk and meat to get together. The next two hours are for the tomatoes, wine and spices to meld. You don’t have to do much stirring, and you get to have a glass of wine before dinner.
San Marzano Tomatoes for Buttermilk Bolognese
Please use San Marzano tomatoes because they have the best flavor. When you buy whole tomatoes, they have more flavor because they are the best of the crop. The less favorable tomatoes are the ones used for crushed or chopped tomatoes. You can use a blender if you want crushed tomatoes. For this, I just crushed them individually with my hands and did fine. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can use scissors – just make sure they are extra clean.
I did not include pasta in this recipe because I don’t know what your favorite pasta is. This sauce is good on any kind of pasta. It makes a lot of sauce. I saved a quart in the freezer and used it later to make the best lasagna.
You can serve this with garlic bread, a nice salad, and your favorite red wine. Choose a light dessert, maybe fruit and cheese.
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup bell pepper, chopped
- 1 quart buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons Tuscan Sunset
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- ⅓ cup red wine
- 2 cans San Marzano tomatoes, whole, chopped
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, for serving
- Mise En Place
- Put olive oil in a Dutch oven and let it get very hot. Add the bell pepper first, then onion. Saute the onion until it is translucent. Add the garlic slices and saute until they are also translucent, then add the remaining minced garlic. Saute that for about 30 seconds.
- Add the meat, 1 teaspoon of Tuscan Sunset, one teaspoon of oregano and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute and turn frequently to get the meat browned. Scrape up the fond that forms.
- Add the buttermilk, stir and reduce the heat to low. Cook down by half, about two hours. Stir every half hour.
- Add the tomatoes, wine, remaining spices, sugar, and cheese. Taste for seasoning. Continue to cook on low for 2 hours, or until the liquid is reduced by half, stirring every half hour.
- Just before the end of cooking, cook and drain your favorite pasta.
- At the end of cooking, add the butter and let it melt into the sauce. Give it one more stirring and serve.
- Top with freshly grated Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.