Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta. Slow cooked beef stew with cider, wine, fresh herbs, and sweet cranberries. If there’s one cozy autumn meal you need to be making, it’s this beef stew. It’s such a simple dinner to throw together, even kind of festive, and totally delicious. Serve this stew over a bed of creamy rosemary polenta and you’ll have the perfect dinner for a cold night in with family and friends.

overhead photo of Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta

Is anyone else in a bit of disbelief that we are already six days into November? It’s weird because on one hand, it feels like November, the temperatures are cold, the leaves have fallen, and Thanksgiving is my current focus (well, and the new cookbook, of course). On the other hand, it feels like it should still be September. Where did October go? How are we entering into the final days of 2019? Soon it’s going to be onto Christmas, my mind is just in complete shock.

I know that everyone says this, but how is time flying by so quickly? I’m currently on a plane headed to LA, but by the time this post goes live on Wednesday I’ll be finishing up my LA trip and already be heading back that night on a plane home – wow!

It is supposed to be a nice eighty-ish degrees in LA. I’m sure the next few days will be a little confusing to me weather-wise. Especially since I’m in full-on cozy fall mode…as you can tell from pretty much every recipe I’ll be sharing this month…but I’ll take it!

raw cranberries

So what’s my point in all this crazy airplane rambling? Well, it’s November, and with November comes the arrival of fresh cranberries.

Most of the time we all only think to use cranberries in our Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. Maybe sometimes we’ll incorporate them into a cocktail, but rarely do we think to use cranberries in other ways.

Thankfully that’s why I’m here. I love using cranberries in savory ways throughout the months of November and December. Not only are cranberries festive and pretty…they can also be a sweet yet tart addition to savory recipes when used correctly. Enter this beef stew. It’s classic beef stew, but with a twist. And it’s just as delicious as you can imagine.

Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta in instant pot before cooking

Here are the stewy details.

Start with the beef. The wonderful thing about beef stew is that you can use a cheaper cut of meat, but make it taste incredible. Cooking the beef low and slow helps to tenderize it and rid the beef of any toughness.

No time for low and slow? No worries, I also tested this recipe out in the instant pot. I was pleasantly surprised with just how mouth-wateringly good the beef turned out.

As with most meat-based recipes, I like to brown the beef before adding any kind of liquid. I know it’s an additional step, but I find it makes for an even more flavorful stew.

Brown the beef, then simply add in sweet cider, a touch of red wine, plenty of carrots, shallots, herbs, and all the other delicious workings of a great beef stew. The key to this stew is the use of fresh apple cider and tart cranberries. The cider spices up the sauce and balances out the tartness from the cranberries. And I know cranberries may seem odd, but trust me, beef and cranberries are such a delicious combination.

If you tried last year’s cranberry braised short ribs, you’ll love this beef stew.

Of course, if you’re truly not a fan, you can easily omit the cranberries from the recipe.

Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew in instant pot after cooking

Now, onto that rosemary polenta.

Just before you’re ready to eat, you should start making the polenta. You could also do something like mashed potatoes or egg noodles, but I’ve found that rosemary polenta is particularly delicious.

To give the polenta a really delicious flavor, I started off by frying the rosemary in a little olive with a few cloves of garlic. This infuses the oil but doesn’t leave you with an overpowering rosemary flavor. Once the rosemary is crisp just add water, then stir in the instant polenta.

If you’re new to instant polenta, it only takes five minutes to make but leaves you with the creamiest, butteriest polenta. This is one of my go-to (and gluten free) side dishes throughout the colder days of the year. It’s healthy, easy to make, and so delicious.

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Finish it up.

Once the beef is tender and the stew sauce has thickened into a loose gravy, spoon the beef over plates of steaming polenta.

Then top with that crisped rosemary and enjoy with a side of crusty bread…and maybe a glass of wine too.

I know it’s only Wednesday, but I don’t see why we can’t make it just as special as a Saturday. Right?

So let’s do it!

side angled photo of Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta

PS. How amazing would it be if I actually came home to this cooking away tonight? Unfortunately, I don’t get in until later, and then have to make the hour and a half trek home…ugh. Not my favorite.

BUT that leaves me with a thought. If you know someone who needs a little cheering up. Or you’d just like to do something nice for someone you love…make this beef.

It’s sure to be a win!

overhead photo of Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta with fork in bowl

If you make this cranberry cider braised beef stew with rosemary polenta, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

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4.53 from 42 votes
The Recipe

Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta.

Slow cooked beef stew with cider, wine, fresh herbs, and sweet cranberries. If there’s one cozy autumn meal you need to be making, this is it.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 482 kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds beef chuck, trimmed and cubed
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon can also use beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 1/2 cups dry instant polenta
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter

Instructions

Slow Cooker

  1. 1. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, sear the beef on both sides. Remove the beef and transfer to the slow cooker. 

    2. To the slow cooker, add the shallots and carrots. Add the cider, wine, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar (or honey), thyme, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, gently stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. During the last 2 hours of cooking, add the cranberries. 

    3. To make the polenta. Heat the butter, garlic, and rosemary in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the garlic is golden and the rosemary is crisp and "fried", about 3 minutes. Remove the rosemary and reserve. To the pan, add 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta, stirring until the polenta is soft and thick, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. If the polenta thickens too much, thin with additional water or cream for an extra luscious polenta.

    4. To serve, remove the thyme and bay leaves from the stew. Serve the stew and gravy over the polenta. Top with crisped rosemary. Enjoy!

Oven

  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

    2. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-safe braiser, sear the beef on both sides. Remove the beef to a plate. Add the shallots and carrots, cook 5 minutes or until the shallots begin to caramelize. Add back the beef. Add the cider, wine, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar (or honey), thyme, and bay leaves. Sprinkle the cranberries overtop. Season with salt and pepper, gently stir to combine. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until the beef is tender.

    3. Make the polenta and finish as directed above.

Instant Pot

  1. 1. Switch the instant pot to sauté. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Sear the beef on both sides until browned. Turn the instant pot off.

    2. To the instant pot, add the shallots and carrots. Add the cider, wine, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar (or honey), thyme, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, gently stir to combine. Seal the instant pot and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes.

    3. Switch the instant pot to sauté. Add the cranberries and bring the sauce to a boil. Boil 8-10 minutes until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens slightly.

    4. Make the polenta and finish as directed above.

horizontal photo of Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta