Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta is an easy slow cooker meal that's perfectly comforting. Like a Sunday dinner with tender meat, lots of veggies and creamy polenta.
Cheesy polenta makes everything pretty divine. Short ribs are delicious on their own, so you can imagine the perfection of this combination.
Slow Cooker Short Ribs
To make short ribs tender and delicious they need low and slow cooking. You can of course do them in an Instant Pot, which pressure cooks them as opposed to slow braising.
I find it super simple to caramelize them and then be hands off while they cook in the slow cooker. Add them with the veggies to a slow cooker and simmer in a broth of tomatoes, beef broth and red wine. Use cranberry juice or POM juice if you are alcohol free.
Slow cooking helps tenderize meat and make it fall off the bone delicious. Short ribs, chuck roasts and brisket are tougher cuts of beef. Tough cuts need the longer cooking time for the connective tissues to break down. This makes each bite tender and perfect for serving with something creamy like fluffy mashed potatoes, or flavor-loaded, creamy, cheesy polenta.
Cheesy polenta can be made while short ribs cook. You're ready for dinner with minimal effort!
For the vegetables I love using carrots because they add a bit of sweetness, and savory onions. For something that cooks this long, the carrots hold their shape, but onion pieces can sometimes break down and get too soft. I opt for pearl onions because they can cook whole. I find already peeled pearl onions in the freezer section in a bag. Super easy to use, no peeling necessary.
Making Cheesy Polenta
The short ribs and veggies cook for a while in the slow cooker. When I'm ready to serve this dinner, it takes only about ten to fifteen minutes to put the polenta together (and that includes bringing water to a boil!). The secret is to use quick-cooking polenta. You'll find it next to traditional polenta in the store. It just takes five minutes to cook, then add the cheese and you've got a perfect starchy side dish.
Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta
- 4 medium carrots cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cups frozen pearl onions from a 16-oz bag
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 4 lbs bone-in beef short ribs
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 can 14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
- ¾ cup low-sodium beef broth
- ¼ cup dry red wine
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley plus additional for garnish
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup quick-cooking polenta
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup finely shredded Parmesan
- Combine carrot, pearl onions and garlic in a 6-quart slow cooker.
- Season ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large, wide pot over medium-high heat. Add ribs, in batches, and cook, turning until browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Transfer, as cooked, to slow cooker.
- Stir together tomatoes, broth, wine, parsley, cornstarch and tomato paste in a bowl; pour over ribs. Add bay leaf. Cover and cook 9 to 11 hours on low or 4 ½ to 5 ½ hours on high. Skim off any fat from top (discard bay leaf).
- Combine 3 ¾ cups water, the polenta and salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add cheese and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Serveribs over polenta and garnish with parsley, if desired.
• You can use cranberry juice or POM juice in place of the wine if you'd like.
More Slow Cooker Recipes
Recipe and Food Styling Tara Teaspoon. Photography Steve Giralt. Originally published in LHJ 10/07.