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1. In a large skillet, cook pancetta until crisp; use a slotted spoon to remove from skillet. Sprinkle beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Brown ribs on all sides in hot drippings. Remove beef from skillet. Cook onion and garlic in hot drippings until tender; drain fat.
2. In a 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker, place pancetta, onion, garlic, and beef ribs. Add undrained tomatoes, red wine, basil, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and crushed red pepper.
3. Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
4. In a large saucepan, bring the water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boiling. Stir in polenta. Reduce heat. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese and basil.
5. Serve polenta in shallow bowls topped with short ribs and sauce. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.