Sean Brock's Shrimp and Grits and Crispy Pig Ear

Photo: Colin Page

Serves 4 as an entree



  • 2 cups Anson Mills grits (soaked overnight, water discarded, skim all chaff before discarding)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • lemon juice
  • hot sauce (preferably Texas Pete, Louisiana or Crystal)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese


  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut into triangles, fronds reserved
  • 3 cups shrimp stock
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • salt
  • white pepper


  • 4 large canned tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • salt
  • black pepper

 Crispy pig ear

  • 1 large pig ear
  • 3 cups water

To serve

  • 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • chopped parsley
  • fennel fronds
  • hot sauce (preferably Texas Pete, Louisiana or Crystal)
  • salt



  • Place the grits and the water in a large saucepan. Slowly bring to a simmer.
  • Skim all the chaff that rises to the top with a fine mesh tea strainer.
  • Simmer for 45 minutes and add the bay leaf. 
  • Simmer for another 45 minutes. Stir the grits as they cook as much as possible, being careful to not let them stick to the bottom of the pot (if they stick, you must change the pot).  You may have to add additional water if they seem to be too thick.
  • Just before you serve the grits season them with salt, white pepper, lemon juice and hot sauce.
  • Fold in the butter and cream cheese.


  • Simmer the fennel with the shrimp stock, butter and the reserved fennel fronds. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook for 8-10 minutes over very low heat, constantly checking the fennel until fork tender.
  • Remove the fennel and reserve the cooking liquid.


  • Cut the tomatoes in half. Dress with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Stud each tomato half with a half of a garlic clove.
  • Slowly cook on a baking sheet in a 120°C oven for 2 hours.
  • Allow to cool and remove the garlic and the skins.

Crispy Pig Ear

  • Cook the ear with the water in a pressure cooker for 1½ hours. 
  • Remove from the liquid and refrigerate. 
  • When ear is cold and gelatinised cut into thin strips.
  • Fry at 180°C until crispy.

To Finish

  • Add the oil to a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  • When oil is hot, add the shrimp. 
  • When cooked on one side, flip each shrimp. 
  • Add fennel, reserved fennel cooking liquid, bring to a simmer. 
  • Add the roasted tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. 
  • Finish with lemon juice, chopped parsley, hot sauce and salt.

To Serve

  • Plate 75g of grits for each guest
  • Divide the shrimp equally amongst the plates.
  • Divide the remaining stew. 
  • Garnish with fennel fronds and crispy pig ears.

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