Short ribs may sound like a fancy, special occasion-type meal, but when you cook them in the slow cooker with fresh vegetables and a beer-based broth, they transform into an easy weeknight dinner the whole family will love.
With two busy people in this household of mine, getting dinner on the table before 9 p.m., let alone a decent one, can be a challenge in itself. When the going gets especially tough, I resort to the basics to keep my sanity, like grilled cheese and canned soup or frozen pizza or Chinese food from the restaurant down the street.
But after one too many take-out meals, it was time to figure out how to incorporate some of our favorite foods into easier weeknight dinners. That’s how I discovered how delicious and simple short ribs can taste when made in the slow cooker. One of our special occasion meals suddenly has become a hearty and comforting dinner for us to enjoy even after a long and busy weekday.
The recipe combines a beer-based broth, herbs, vegetables and short ribs in a KitchenAid® 6-quart Slow Cooker with a creamy Parmesan polenta on the side. You simply place everything in the slow cooker, let it cook low and slow all day and, when you’re ready for dinner, whip up the polenta and serve.
What’s particularly great about the KitchenAid® 6-quart Slow Cooker is its programmable cook settings: Low, Medium and High. You determine how long you want it to cook for and at what temperature and, once it’s fully cooked, it will keep your meal warm until you’re ready to serve. I also love its 6-quart capacity for this recipe: We often make the whole batch for the two of us and it keeps well as leftovers all week long.
To prepare your short ribs, brown them with a little oil in a skillet on all sides. Browning the ribs briefly before putting them in the slow cooker helps achieve that slight crust on the outside of the meat and also ensures it will be fully cooked at the end of the cook time.
Layer the carrots and onions in the bottom of the slow cooker, then top them with the browned short ribs.
Add the potatoes, parsnips, herbs, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard, then pour the stout beer on top. The combination of beer with the balsamic vinegar, mustard and herbs makes for a uniquely delicious broth that really boosts the flavor of the ribs.
Cover and cook everything on the “Low” setting for 7 to 8 hours, until the ribs are cooked through and the potatoes and parsnips are tender. Drain the meat and vegetables and reserve some of the juices for serving. Tip: Chill or freeze the extra juice to use as beef broth in another recipe.
When it’s all ready, prepare the polenta. Whisk 1 cup polenta into boiling milk and water, then stir in some salt, pepper and grated Parmesan cheese.
Serve everything in a shallow bowl or on a plate with the polenta as the base. Be sure to spoon some of the juices over each serving and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Slow Cooker Stout Short Ribs with Creamy Parmesan Polenta
Makes 6-8 servings
For the short ribs
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
3 pounds bone-in short ribs
2 medium white onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup baby carrots
2 medium parsnips, cut into large pieces
2 to 3 medium yellow potatoes, cut into large pieces
4 sprigs each rosemary, thyme and parsley
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 (12 oz) dark stout beer
Parsley leaves, for garnish
For the polenta
3 cups milk
1 cup water or beef stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup polenta
1/4 cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season short ribs with salt and pepper, then place in skillet. Brown on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, place onions and carrots in the bottom of a KitchenAid® 6-quart Slow Cooker. Top with salt and pepper to taste. Place the browned short ribs on top, then top with the parsnips and potatoes. Add the herbs, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. Pour the stout beer over the top, then add just enough water to cover the contents.
Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours, until short ribs are cooked through and tender and vegetables are tender. Strain, reserving juices for serving.
Meanwhile, make the polenta: In a large saucepan or skillet, heat milk and water or stock to boiling over medium heat. Add salt and pepper, then stir in polenta. Continue stirring 5 to 10 minutes, until polenta absorbs all the liquid and is smooth and cooked through. Stir in Parmesan cheese.
Plate short ribs with vegetables and polenta; garnish with parsley leaves and season with more salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with reserved juices.
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*