In the Kitchen: Braised Beef Short Rib over Smoked Cheddar Polenta

In the Kitchen
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bkg brings us head Chef James English from KG Kitchen making Braised Beef Short Rib over Smoked Cheddar Polenta. It is tender braised beef, smokey, creamy polenta, leeks, fennel, glazed cranberries, and fresh horseradish make this hearty and visually stunning dish perfect for the holidays.

Ingredients for the Short Ribs:
  • 3 ½ lbs. Beef short rib
  • ¼ cup Canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 each Carrot, peeled and cut into 1inch pieces
  • 2 each Yellow onions, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 4 ribs Celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 head Garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 each Bay Leaf
  • 2 cups Red Wine (merlot or cabernet sauvignon)
  • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 4 cups Chicken stock
  • ½ cup Demi Glace
  • 1 root Fresh Horseradish
Ingredients for the Polenta:
  • 1/4 cup Fine ground yellow cornmeal (polenta)
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • 4 oz Smoked Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
Ingredients for the Vegetables:
  • 2 each Leeks, root end and tops removed, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 each Fennel bulbs, bottoms removed, cut into ½ inch wedges
  • ½ cup White wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
Ingredients for the Glazed Cranberries:
  • 1 cup Whole cranberries, fresh or frozen (but defrosted)
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup water
  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 300F. Next, trim the beef short ribs of any excess fat, sinew, and silverskin. Cut into 4, 14-ounce portions. This may look large, but they will shrink by half! Prepare the vegetables as described in the ingredients list.
  2. Using a dutch oven, or a large saute pan with high sides and a lid, heat over a burner on high flame. Add the cooking oil. While the pan and oil get hot, season the short ribs generously with salt and cracked pepper.
  3. When the oil begins to have a bit of white smoke coming off of it, carefully begin to add the short ribs to the pan. Do not overcrowd the pan, the meat can be seared in batches if necessary. Turn heat down to medium-high and sear each side of the ribs. Getting a nice, hard, dark-but-not-burnt sear here is essential for building the flavor of the final dish.
  4. When all sides of the short ribs are seared, remove them from the pan and set aside. Into the same pan, add the chopped onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and bay leaf. Cook the vegetables over medium-high heat to caramelize. Use a wooden spoon to scrape off the bits sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Once the vegetables are golden brown, add the tomato paste and cook for 5 more minutes.
  6. Deglaze pan with red wine, scraping any bits off the bottom. Return the short ribs to the pan with the vegetables. Reduce the red wine by half and then add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and put into a preheated oven to cook. Short ribs will take about 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours. After 2 ½ hours begin to test the meat by poking with a fork or paring knife until it can go in and back out without any resistance. When they are done, remove from the oven and set aside with the lid on and prepare the rest of the meal. The short ribs will stay warm while you are cooking the rest.
  7. For the Leeks and Fennel you will be using the same 300F oven that you used for the short ribs. Heat a large saute pan over high heat. Add 3-4 tablespoons of cooking oil. When the oil begins to have white smoke coming off of it, carefully add the leeks, cut side down, and the fennel wedges. Do not overcrowd the pan, vegetables can be seared in batches if necessary. Sear the first side of the leeks and fennel, then use tongs to flip them over, and sear the other side.
  8. When both sides are seared, deglaze the pan with the white wine with all the leeks and fennel in the pan. Reduce the wine by half. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  9. When a boil is reached, place the pan into the 300F oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  10. While the Leeks and Fennel cook, make the glazed cranberries: in a small pot add the water and sugar. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar and make a “simple syrup”. Pour over the cranberries and set aside to cool.
  11. Next, start the polenta: In a high sided pot, add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  12. Sprinkle the polenta into the boiling stock while whisking. Turn heat to medium-low and add the milk and butter. Cooking time will vary depending if you are using instant polenta or not, cook for the amount of time recommended on the package. Whisk often, polenta will thicken while it cooks. If the polenta gets too thick while it is cooking, simply whisk in a splash of water to loosen.
  13. When the polenta is done, whisk in the grated smoked cheddar cheese. Continue to whisk until all the cheese is melted and evenly incorporated. If the polenta becomes too thick, add a splash of stock or water to loosen it. Cover the pan and set aside until ready to serve.
  14. Prior to serving, heat the demi-glace up in a small saucepan.
  15. You are now ready to build your plates! I recommend serving this dish in large bowls. First put polenta down in the bowls. Next, put a few pieces of leeks and fennel in the center on top of the polenta. Then put a short rib on top of the vegetables. Pour some demi-glace over the top of each short rib. Use a slotted spoon to pour a few glazed cranberries over the top of each, and finish by using a microplane to grate some fresh horseradish over each dish.

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