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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.

overhead close up photo of Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta

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!

Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta.

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

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Instructions

Slow Cooker

  • 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. 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. 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.
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was so good and flavorful. I used small bag of potatoes instead of polenta. Will definitely be making this again.

    1. Hey Tracy,
      Thanks so much for making this recipe and sharing your feedback, I love to hear that it was enjoyed!! xTieghan

  2. 4 stars
    Really good! I love the way the polenta soaks up all that sauce, so you can appreciate all the flavors. Since I couldn’t get cranberries off-season, I subbed in 2 chopped Granny Smith apples. Complimented the cider nicely and also added some of the tartness you would ordinarily get from the cranberries. Next time I’ll be a little bit more careful how I cook the beef — I think I spent too long browning it before popping it in the Slow Cooker, and so it came out a little dry. I would recommend cooking it very quickly on high just so the outside gets nicely browned.

    1. Hi Sasha,
      Fantastic!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks for making it! Thanks for sharing your notes. Have the best weekend:) xT

    1. Hey Rachel,
      Awesome!! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I am so glad to hear that it was enjoyed!! Sure, you should not have any issues freezing this! xx

    1. Mine had a lot of sauce – I would suggest some beef broth and a little more cider – I felt mine was plenty of wine flavor and hard to cook off all the wine in time so broth and cider should help, in my opinion! Just made this last night as well 🙂

      1. Hey Nicole,
        Thanks a lot for giving this recipe a try, I am glad to hear that it was enjoyed. Have the best weekend!! xTieghan

    2. Hey Sharon,
      Thanks for giving the recipe a try! Was there anything you may have adjusted? I am trying to figure out why you didn’t have a lot of sauce! xTieghan

  3. 5 stars
    This is in the crockpot for tonight! Already know it’s going to be amazing based on the SMELLS. We have NO cranberries left this time of year (late Jan) at my local stores so I used a couple table spoons of whole berry cranberry sauce! Will report back my findings. Also had leftover tomatoes and potatoes to use before they wet bad and threw them in. Cant wait!!

  4. 5 stars
    I made this for New Year’s Eve dinner and it was an absolute hit!! I used the slow cooker method (searing the meat first) with Zeigler’s apple cider and thawed a bag of frozen cranberries since fresh weren’t available. I also used a Hess Cabernet (I’ll usually sub beef broth) and glad I used the wine. The combination of flavors along with the rosemary polenta was so delicious and complex; this will be a new go to on my dinner time rotation! Thank you Tieghan!!

    1. Hey Arden,
      Fantastic! Thanks a lot for making this recipe, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! Happy New Year!🎆 xxT

  5. 5 stars
    Hi Tieghan, I’ve made this recipe a few times and absolutely love it! Would it be possible to tweak this to use a white meat instead? What would you recommend?

    1. Hi Laura,
      Thank you so very much for giving this recipe a try, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! I think chicken would also work well here. Happy Holidays!🎄🎁

  6. Hi Tieghan, This sounds so yummy and festive! I want to make this for Christmas dinner but make it lamb as we usually do lamb for Christmas. Since you’ve tasted it, would you adjust anything w flavor or time to go with lamb?

    1. Hey Tiffany,
      I think you should be fine following the recipe as is. Please let me know if you give it a try. Happy Holidays! xTieghan

      1. 5 stars
        Out of this world! I used lamb shoulder blade chops and switched the carrot for cubed butternut squash. Everything else was exactly the same. I made it the day before because I firmly believe stew is always better the second day. Found the instant polenta at an Italian market and made that and your Christmas tree pull apart bread as the stew reheated. Such a show stoppingly delicious meal

        1. Hi Tiffany,
          Thank you so much for making this recipe, I am so glad to hear it was enjoyed! Merry Christmas!🎄🎁 xT

  7. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious recipe! I made this last night and also did your slow cooker mashed potatoes so my guests had the option of Polenta or Potatoes. I got compliments from everyone on how good the dinner was. I’ll definitely be making this again.

    1. Hi Clarisa,
      Thanks so much for trying this recipe out, I am thrilled to hear that it was enjoyed. Happy Holidays! xTieghan

  8. 5 stars
    This is fantastic. I made it in the crock pot. When it was finished I poured the Excess liquid in a skillet, added some corn starch, and made gravy.

  9. 5 stars
    This was excellent! Made the oven version yesterday and it was outstanding. I was a little concerned about the liquid levels after reading some of the comments but I decided to follow the recipe as it is written in order to see for myself. I’m glad I trusted it because it came together perfectly. This is one of the best stew recipes I’ve ever made.

    I could not find instant polenta in the store, so I had to go the old-fashioned route. I’m sure the recipe here is great, but for decadence, I boiled 5 cups of milk (infused with rosemary) for one cup of polenta. I cooked it very low and slow, whisking at first and then stirring frequently for about an hour. Added mascarpone cheese at the end.

  10. Balsamic vinegar and anything fermented (soy sauce) causes migraines for my husband. Can you suggest a substitute?
    Thanks!

  11. 5 stars
    Wonderful recipe! I seared the beef in a cast iron skillet and deglazed it with some of the wine and put that in the slowcooker. Your recipes are always brilliant.

  12. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe!! The cranberries added a subtle tart flavor. It’s a nice change from the typical pot roast recipes.

    1. Hey Anna,
      I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for giving it a try! Have a great week! xTieghan

    1. Hey Orlanda,
      Yes, that will work well for you. I hope you enjoy the recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan