Place the ribs on a baking sheet and season all sides generously with salt and pepper.
Coat the bottom of a very large oven-safe pot with olive oil. (The pot should be large enough to accommodate all the ribs, vegetables, and liquid -- a French Oven is perfect). Place the pot over high heat, and once it's very hot, add the ribs -- you should hear a sizzling sound, and if you don't, it's not hot enough. Wait until it's very hot and listen for the sizzle! Searing the meat this way caramelizes the surface which adds a ton of delicious flavor to the final dish -- it also helps to seal in the juices and reduces the overall cooking time. Brown the ribs very well, about three minutes per side. Remove them from pot, place them on a plate, and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Add the onions and garlic to the pot where the ribs were seared, and cook over medium-high heat until they begin to brown and are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the fresh thyme, paprika and cinnamon and cook for another minute or so, until it's very aromatic.
Add the mushrooms and a bit more olive oil to the pan. Cook until they become caramelized and brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato paste, and stir and cook for a couple of minutes. The bottom of your pot will become brown. This is great! It is flavor!
Pour in the stock and wine and use a wooden spatula with a flat edge to scrape the bottom of the pan, working all the wonderful browned bits of flavor back into the sauce.
Return the ribs to the pot and gently stir them into the sauce. Bring to a boil, cover the pot and place in the preheated 325 degree F oven and braise for 1 hour.
Then remove the lid and carefully mix in the carrots. Cover again, and cook until the meat is very tender and easily comes off the bone, about 1 more hour.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Here's How to Season to Taste. (If the sauce isn't quite as thick as you'd like, place the pot on the stove over medium-low heat and let it thicken to the desired consistency.
For the polenta
While the ribs are braising, in a medium-sized saucepan, add the salt to the stock and bring to a boil.
Gradually whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and whisking often, cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, about 20 minutes.
Turn off the heat and add the half and half, cheese, and butter. Stir to blend. Keep the pan covered until you're ready to serve.
For the chard
Just a few minutes before the stew is removed from the oven, coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with olive oil, add the chard, and place it over medium-high heat. Stirring often, cook until it's wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Here's How to Season to Taste.)
Divide the polenta between 6 serving bowls. Add a bit of the chard on top of each one, followed by a portion of the short rib stew.