I don’t know what the weather is doing where you are but here, it seems to be a bit confused. We’ll have a warmer day, then rain, the freezing cold again with wind, sun, drizzle and almost everything else thrown in at some point. True, it has been a much milder winter than last year, which I am truly thankful for with a newborn, and there has been a relatively small amount of snow, but the ups and downs can be confusing. You think spring is around the corner one day, then anything but the next. I have found from a food perspective, my thoughts are a bit all over as well – sometimes I feel like having a salad, other times I crave soup. While I’m certainly looking forward to some consistently warmer weather, at the same time I’m still wanting to fit in a few more warming comfort-food meals and this slow cooker short rib ragu with polenta is one of them. It’s hearty and comforting, full of flavor and perfect for the last of the colder weather.
How it’s made
While this dish takes a little more preparation than simply throwing everything in the slow cooker, it’s still certainly far from complicated and the hands-on time is still limited. All you need to do is brown the meat, transfer it to the slow cooker, soften the vegetables then deglaze the pan with wine to make sure you get all the deliciousness from the bottom of the pan. Add this, the tomatoes and herbs to the slow cooker then leave it to get on with things. Meanwhile you can get on with your day, whether it’s standing in the park while your toddler jumps in puddles or runs races, as we have had recently, or whatever else keeps you busy. Here I used half short rib on the bone, half boneless mainly as I had the bone-in ribs already to use up. Boneless is definitely a lot easier so if you go for only one, do that, but the meat still comes off the bone easily and the bones add flavor so the mix is quite good too.
After the meat has cooked a while, come evening, boil some water, add the polenta and cook a couple minutes, add cheese – I have used a mixture of parmesan and feta as I think it gives a great mix of flavor – mix in and let it rest a minute while you shred up the beef. Serve it up and enjoy – now isn’t that easy? And it’s delicious as well. I have had mixed experience with polenta as I didn’t ever make it myself until I tried fresh polenta last year (which I must make again come corn season) and eating it out, I often found it a bit bland, but the secret is definitely good flavorings added to it, as with the mix of cheese here. I’ve made it a thick porridge consistency as the liquid from the slow cooker short rib ragu mingles in with it and thins it down so this, to me, is the perfect consistency for having that happen.
Slow cooker short rib ragu with polenta is a great meal for both being pretty hands-off cooking-wise, but full of delicious flavor from all the great ingredients in both the ragu and the polenta. It’s hearty, warming, and just the right doze of comfort food you need for these last cold days, though I could easily eat this on warmer days too it’s that good.
Slow cooker short rib ragu with polenta
An easy dish to make, this short rib ragu is delicious comfort food.
For the ragu
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 lb short ribs 900g, approx - either all boneless or as I did, half on the bone
- 1 onion small
- 2 carrot small, or 1 large
- 1 cloves garlic or 2 if smaller
- 1 cup red wine 240ml
- 14.5 oz crushed tomatoes 411g, 1 can
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper
For the polenta
- 1 cup polenta 240ml
- 2 1/2 cups water 600ml
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 oz feta 45g, crumbled
- 1/2 cup parmesan 15g, finely grated
- 1 tbsp butter 15g
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet/frying pan or wide heavy-based pan.
Cut the meat into approx 2in/5cm chunks (or between the bones if using part on the bone) and season lightly with salt and pepper. Brown the meat in th e pan in batches, browning all sides, then transfer to a slow cooker.
Dice the onion and carrot and crush/finely chop the garlic. Cook the onion and carrot in the pan for a couple minutes, then add garlic. Add a little more oil if needed. Cook all around 5min until the onions soften.
Add wine to the pan to deglaze - scrape any brown off the bottom to get all the good flavor. Add the tomatoes and herbs then pour everything over the meat in the slow cooker. The meat should be covered by the sauce.
Cook it on low for 6-8hrs.
When almost ready to eat, bring the water to the boil and add the polenta and salt. Simmer polenta for around 5 minutes, stirring regularly so it doesn't burn or unevenly thicken. Add the cheeses and butter, stir to melt then remove from the heat and leave it to stand a couple mins.
Meanwhile shred the beef with two forks and remove any bones or thicker pieces of fat/grizzle.
Serve the beef, along with some of the juices over the polenta.