These red wine braised beef short ribs are slow-cooked for hours until they are tender, juicy, and fall off the bone. The foolproof oven-baked polenta method leaves you with deliciously braised short ribs, creamy polenta, and smooth vegetable gravy.
What are beef short ribs?
Short ribs are cut from either the brisket, chuck, plate, or rib areas of the cow. It always contains a portion of the rib bone that is surrounded by meat.
Compared to almost any other type of ribs, beef short ribs often have the most meat on them!
Why this slow cooker beef short ribs recipe works
- Beef short ribs have more meat on them than other types of ribs.
- The meat becomes extra tender and falls off the bone.
- Charring the ribs first locks in the juices and keeps them close to the bone, so the meat doesn’t dry out.
- The vegetables puree beautifully to become a tasty gravy!
What is polenta?
Polenta is a dish made from cornmeal. It can be served like a savory porridge, or you can bake or fry it for a crispier texture. It’s very popular in Italy!
Short rib ingredients
The ingredients for this dish are pretty much staples – I almost always have these items on hand.
- Beef stock
- Yellow onion
- Tomato paste
- Red wine
One ingredient you’ve seen me talk about in my soup posts is the Better Than Bouillon paste. I love adding this to give my soups/sauces an extra punch of flavor or ‘umami.’ For this recipe, I used the organic beef variety.
I used only a handful of ingredients in my oven-baked polenta. Here’s a short list of what I used:
- Cornmeal (medium grind or coarse)
- Low sodium chicken broth
- Unsalted butter
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
How to pick the best beef short ribs
When shopping for beef short ribs, you’ll first want to make sure you’re picking bone-in short ribs. The bones will give it so much more flavor while it cooks.
Next, you want to pick the meatiest short ribs. I like to look for about 1 inch ½ thickness (they will shrink when cooking). There are different cuts, but the English cut is most typical in most local grocery stores, usually 2-4 inches with only one bone, and what I used above.
There is also a flanken cut, which has multiple bones and typically needs to be cut down.
Braising short ribs
The definition of braise in the Oxford dictionary is to “fry lightly, then stew it closely in a closed container.” This is exactly what we are going to do with our short rib – get a nice sear on each side, then put them in the slow cooker.
This is how to braise short ribs:
- Before searing, Season both sides of the short ribs with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
- Then, sear the short ribs in batches in a hot cast iron skillet using grape seed oil (you can use whichever high smoke point oil you have on hand).
- Sear them for about a minute or two on each side until they have a nice crust.
As I finished searing each short rib, I placed them into my crockpot/slow cooker. Can we all take a moment to bask in the seared short rib beauty?!
Set up slow cooker
- Once you have seared all the short ribs, lower the skillet heat to medium/low and add in the onion and garlic.
- Sauté for 2 minutes to get a light char.
- Add in the wine and scrape up all the delicious bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Pour this over the short ribs in the crockpot and add the rest of the ingredients.
Slow cooking short ribs
The goal is to cook the short ribs low and slow!
I cooked mine for 8 hours, and I wouldn’t recommend cooking them for any less time. You want the short ribs to fall off the bone and melt in your mouth.
I carefully removed the short ribs, thyme, and bay leaves from the slow cooker. Also, check for bones because some will have fallen off during the cooking process (#TenderMeatGoals).
Making short rib gravy
Don’t you dare discard those vegetables!
Here’s how to make a vegetable gravy:
- Using an immersion blender, we are going to turn those delicious carrots, onions, celery, and garlic into gravy.
- Continue passing the immersion blender until no large pieces remain.
- Taste and add a pinch of salt or fresh ground black pepper if needed (and try to control your urge to keep tasting this amazing gravy).
How to make creamy polenta
Polenta is a tasty side dish made out of cornmeal. When choosing cornmeal, make sure you use medium grind or coarse grind.
I advise against fine because it will come out too pasty, and the texture will be off.
I also like to use half water and half chicken broth for a more flavorful polenta. If you don’t have chicken broth on hand, you can use all water.
There are many ways to cook polenta: stovetop, microwave, and oven.
I honestly just don’t have the patience to sit and babysit polenta on the stovetop. So, I love this foolproof oven-baked polenta to go along with these delicious slow cooker beef short ribs.
To make the polenta:
- Add 1 cup of cornmeal to the pot.
- Then, slowly whisk in the water and chicken broth until combined. I put in it the oven at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
3. After the 50 minutes, carefully remove the polenta, stir in a tablespoon of butter, a ¼ cup of freshly grated parmesan, and some fresh ground black pepper.
4. Use a spatula to scrape up the sides as well. Return to the oven for 10 more minutes, remove, give it one more stir, and taste.
Assembling the dish
To assemble, spread the polenta onto the bottom of the dish, followed by a few short ribs, then spoon the gravy over the top and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
I plated with the bone in for a presentation, but you can remove the bones prior to plating!
The short ribs are so tender, juicy, and fall-off-the-bone. These braised beef short ribs are rich in flavor and texture and will basically melt in your mouth.
I hope you enjoy these slow cooker short ribs with my foolproof oven-baked polenta!
Love slow cooker recipes? Check these out!
- Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga Tacos
- Chili in the Slow Cooker
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Chicken
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Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs with Polenta
- 5 pounds bone in english cut beef short ribs
- 3 medium carrots peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 ribs celery roughly chopped
- 6 cloves garlic peeled
- ½ yellow onion roughly chopped
- 1 ½ cups low sodium beef stock
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon Beef Better Than Bouillon paste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- ¼ cup oil for searing short ribs
- Fresh parsley chopped to garnish
- 1 cup cornmeal medium grind or coarse (see note)
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Slow Cooker short ribs
- Season both sides of the short ribs with kosher salt and black pepper. In a cast iron over medium/high heat, add the oil. Once hot, sear each side of the short ribs for 1 minute until a nice golden brown crust is formed (you may have to sear in batches). Once done searing all sides, place into the slow cooker/crockpot.
- Lower the heat to medium/low and add the onions and garlic cloves. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until they lightly char. Add in the red wine and deglaze the pan for 3 minutes, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the stove and pour over the short ribs in the slow cooker.
- Add the carrots, celery, beef stock, bouillon paste, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves, ½ tsp kosher salt, and ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper to the slow cooker. Using tongs, mix all of the ingredients together. Set the slow cooker on low for 8 hours.
- After the 8 hours have elapsed, remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves, then discard them. Carefully remove the short ribs and set aside, check and remove any bones that have fallen off of the short ribs. Using an immersion blender, blend all the vegetables until a gravy is formed. Taste the gravy and add salt/pepper if necessary. Serve the polenta, followed by the short ribs on top, and then spoon the gravy over the top [see note]. Garnish with fresh parsley.
Oven baked polenta
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a 2 qt oven safe sauce pan, add in the cup of cornmeal. Slowly whisk in the water and chicken broth.
- Place in the oven and cook for 50 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven, add in a tbsp of butter, and ¼ cup of cheese. Stir to combine and scrape around the edges of the pot. Place back into the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir, and taste. Add kosher salt/black pepper if needed. Serve immediately.
- You can serve the short ribs with the bone in for presentation, or you can just remove them prior to serving.
- Don’t use fine cornmeal or texture will be pasty and off
- You can make the short ribs in advance and reheat the next day. When storing, a layer of fat may accumulate on the top, simply use a spoon to remove and discard.