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Braised Short Ribs with Soft Polenta

By Chef John Ash

For this dish, just about anything can be added to flavor the rich braising liquid. Some ideas are dried porcini mushrooms (rehydrated and sautéed along with the onions), or even a little ancho or chipotle chile. The dish freezes beautifully and is even better when made ahead of time. A Vine Hill Pinot Noir would be a terrific pair for this meal.

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    Serves 4

    Total Time 2.5-3 hours

    Prep Time 15 minutes

    Difficulty Level Medium


    3 lbs boneless short ribs (trimmed of fat)

    Salt and freshly ground pepper

    4 tbsp olive oil

    6 large cloves garlic (clove separated and peeled)

    2 c diced white onions

    1 c diced carrot

    1 c diced celery

    2 c chopped mushrooms

    2 c canned diced tomatoes

    1 bottle (or more) hearty dry red wine

    3 c rich beef, chicken or vegetable stock

    1 tbsp each chopped fresh rosemary and thyme (2 teaspoons dried)

    2 tsp fennel seed

    1 tbsp cornstarch softened in 1/3 cup wine or water (optional)

    4 c chicken stock or water (Soft Polenta)

    1 c yellow polenta corn meal (Soft Polenta)

    2 tbsp butter (Soft Polenta)

    1/3 c freshly grated parmesan cheese (Soft Polenta)

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper (Soft Polenta)


    1. For the ribs: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Season short ribs generously with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a deep heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven large enough to hold the short ribs in one layer.

    2. For the ribs: Over medium-high heat, brown the ribs on all sides. Remove short ribs, reserve and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pot. Add garlic, onions, carrot, celery and mushrooms to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned.

    3. For the ribs: Add the tomatoes, wine and stock and bring to boil. Add the short ribs, herbs and fennel seed. Cover with a lid or foil and braise in the oven for 2 1/2 hours or until very tender.

    4. For the ribs: Transfer the ribs to a platter. Strain cooking juices through fine strainer, discard the solids.

    5. For the ribs: Remove and discard as much fat as you can. Return strained juices to the pot and over high heat, reduce until lightly thickened and concentrated, about 10 - 15 minutes. You can thicken if desired by whisking in as much of the cornstarch mixture as you desire. Correct seasoning and add short ribs back to pot and reheat.

    6. For the polenta: Bring the stock to a boil in a deep saucepan. Gradually whisk in the polenta and then reduce heat to medium. Cook stirring regularly until the polenta is thick and pulling away from the sides of the pan, about 15 minutes. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve. If it gets too thick, stir in a bit more stock or water.

    7. For the polenta: Just before serving stir in butter and cheese and season to your taste with salt and pepper.

    8. To serve spoon soft polenta onto shallow bowls. Top with short ribs and sauce along with the crispy kale.

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