Absolutely brilliant call, David Tanis, bravo. Making polenta for a crowd has never been so easy.
By David Tanis and from the Oct., 2010 issue of Bon Appetit
1 1/2 cups polenta (coarse cornmeal)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°. Stir polenta, oil, salt, and 7 1/2 cups water in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish to blend. Bake, uncovered, for 1 1/4 hours. Stir in cheese and butter and season with pepper. Smooth top and continue baking until polenta is set and jiggles like custard, 25–30 minutes.
Meanwhile, discard any fat from surface of lamb shank mixture and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently, occasionally turning shanks and stirring sauce, until heated through, about 20 minutes. If using large shanks, remove from pot; let cool slightly, then coarsely shred meat from bones. Return meat to sauce. (If you have 8 small shanks, you can serve them whole, setting them directly atop polenta.)
Preheat broiler. Broil polenta, watching very closely to prevent burning, until surface is light golden, 5–7 minutes. Serve immediately for a softer polenta; for a firmer texture, let rest for up to 30 minutes.