2 years ago

Slow Cooker Beer Braised Short Ribs with Parmesan Polenta

Twin Cities food blogger greens & chocolate shares her new recipe for tender, flavorful ribs made easy in the slow cooker. Perfect for dinner parties and simple enough for weeknights, too!

When I was in grad school, I spent a semester living in Seattle for a clinical rotation. I had never really lived in a city with amazing restaurants (sorry Iowa and Nebraska), and so Seattle felt like a whole new world of food was in front of me. Not only were there great restaurants, but also amazing markets with the most beautiful produce, flowers and meats. I was in food heaven!

One weekend during my time there, my aunt came to visit me. We had a whole list of things we wanted to do, including visit wineries, go out to eat, go hiking and (her personal addition to the list) have me cook dinner for her. You see, I lived with her for another clinical rotation and loved cooking her family dinner, and she was missing my cooking.

I’m not sure why I chose to make short ribs for us, as I’d never had them before, but a recipe for wine braised short ribs with gorgonzola polenta caught my eye. It ended up being an amazing meal, and since then short ribs have been on my “short list” of favorite foods.

While I typically make them in my Dutch oven, braising them in the oven for a few hours, I tried them in a slow cooker a few months ago and loved the results. They were just as tender as making them in the oven and so much easier!

This time, instead of making them with wine, I switched it up with beer. I used a dark porter and loved how they turned out! Along with the beer, the short ribs are cooked in a mixture of onions, celery, thyme, tomato paste, brown sugar and Dijon mustard. So much flavor!

Since the short ribs have quite a bit of flavor, I kept the polenta simple with just some chicken broth, garlic and Parmesan cheese. With a splash of heavy cream at the end, the polenta is rich, creamy and smooth.

This kind of meal is so easy that it could really be a weeknight meal, but is fancy enough for a date-night in or a small dinner party.

Slow Cooker Beer Braised Short Ribs

4 servings
Preparation time: 8-9 hours on low or 4 hours on high

3-4 pounds short ribs
2 yellow onions, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 (12-ounce) bottle of beer (I used a Porter)
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

For the Parmesan Polenta:
4 cups chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup polenta
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Additional Parmesan cheese, for topping
Rosemary sprigs, for garnish


  1. Sprinkle short ribs with salt and pepper on all sides; place into slow cooker.
  2. Top with onions, celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaves.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together beer, beef broth, tomato paste, brown sugar and Dijon mustard. Pour over short ribs.
  4. Cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4 hours.
  5. Remove the short ribs from the slow cooker.
  6. Skim the fat off the sauce in the slow cooker; using an immersion blender, puree the onions and celery into the sauce.
  7. Serve with Parmesan Polenta.

To make the polenta:

  1. Add chicken broth and garlic to a medium pot and bring to a simmer.
  2. Whisk in polenta.
  3. Cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until thick, about 10 minutes.
  4. Once thickened, add heavy cream, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese, stirring to combine.
  5. Serve topped with short ribs, rosemary and additional Parmesan cheese, along with a light drizzle of the sauce.