Braised Beef Short Ribs with Tortelloni in a Marsala Cream Sauce (Slow Cooker Recipe)

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Tortelloni in a Marsala Cream Sauce

I had beef short ribs for the first time at Olive Garden. They have this wonderful dish called Braised Beef & Tortelloni. It's been at least a few years since I first had this dish and I have wanted to recreate this dish ever since. I googled many times over the years for a recipe and even sent Darden Restaurants an email to no avail. I have made beef short ribs at home several times with great results and recently made Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs in a slow cooker. Just recently though, I decided to drastically modify that America's Test Kitchen recipe to recreate Olive Garden's Braised Beef and Tortelloni (bigger tortellini) recipe.

The description on the menu includes portobello mushrooms and a basil-marsala cream sauce. Why not make it easy on myself and make it in the slow cooker like the red wine-braised recipe? After it was done cooking in the slow cooker, I removed the beef to allow it to rest and strained the sauce from the slow cooker and put it into a fat separator (my new favorite kitchen tool – the Oxo brand fat separator) and reduced the sauce, added sauteed portobellos and 1/2 cup of heavy cream.

The results? Amazing! I'm thrilled it out worked! I used store-bought tortelloni and it worked out awesome. This is a dish that may just enter into our regular rotation. My husband isn't too crazy about tortelloni or tortellini so he had his with fettuccine which was also great! Add your favorite garlic bread or buttery rolls and you have Italian comfort food at its best.

Being careful with your knife, remove the short rib meat from the bone. I stand it up straight so I can get most of the meat off of the bone.

After microwaving the bones, place them at the bottom of the slow cooker.

In batches, brown the boneless short ribs.

Place them on top of the short rib bones in the slow cooker.

Brown the veggies and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot/pan.

This sauce is layered with flavor!

Pour the sauce over the beef in the slow cooker.

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Tortelloni in a Marsala Cream Sauce

Using a fat separator to remove the fat from a sauce or gravy is much faster than skimming it.


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Braised Beef Short Ribs with Tortelloni in a Marsala Cream Sauce (Slow Cooker Recipe)

Yield: 4-5 generous servings

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 9 hours 20 minutes

Total Time: 10 hours 20 minutes


  • 4 pounds bone-in short ribs, meat and bones separated
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped medium
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped medium
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh basil or 2 tsp dried
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups marsala cooking wine
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large portobello mushrooms, remove gills, cut into quarters and sliced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 small tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 9 oz. package of refrigerated cheese tortelloni


  1. Place beef bones in a microwavable casserole dish and microwave, 10 to 12 minutes; add to slow cooker.
  2. Use paper towels to dry short rib meat and add salt & pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a French oven at medium high heat for 4-5 minutes. In batches (if needed), brown short ribs on each side for about 7 to 10 minutes; add to slow cooker top of the bones. (Repeat for each batch.)
  3. Add garlic, onion, carrot, thyme, and basil to French oven and cook over medium-high heat until onions are translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, mixing the entire time.
  4. Whisk in wine and vinegar, use the whisk to scrape up browned bits at the bottom of your French oven. Reduce for about 5 minutes until the alcohol is reduced. Add drained tomatoes to wine sauce and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Add wine sauce to slow cooker.
  5. Add broth and stir in as best as you can in slow cooker. Add bay leaves to slow cooker. Cover and cook for 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.
  6. Remove short ribs to platter and add foil but do not cover tightly. Allow meat to rest at least 15-20 minutes before slicing.
  7. Using a strainer on top of a fat separator (not the one it came with because the holes are too big), strain braising liquid into fat separator. Set aside and discard solids.
  8. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil at medium heat in a braising pan or non-stick skillet for about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Remove and place mushrooms on a clean plate.
  9. Add set aside braising liquid to pan and heat for about 5 minutes. While the sauce is being heated, start a large pot of salted boiling water and cook tortelloni according to package directions.
  10. Reduce the sauce in the pan's heat to low. Add mushrooms, half of the diced tomatoes and heavy cream. Reduce sauce for another 4-5 minutes and then leave on warm until you're ready to serve with tortelloni. Garnish dishes with remaining diced tomatoes.

From The Little Kitchen, inspired by Olive Garden's Braised Beef & Tortelloni

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Disclosure: Olive Garden doesn't know who the heck I am and this post does contain an affiliate link.

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