Florida’s Shrimp and Grits A Ya-Ya

This version of shrimp and grits A Ya-Ya is made by chef Jim Shirley in Seaside, Florida. It comes with shrimp, a spinach sauce and a cheesy, gouda grits.

Served at Great Southern Cafe in Seaside, Florida and Pensacola Fish House in Downtown Pensacola, this is chef Jim Shirley’s signature dish.

Florida's Shrimp and Grits A Ya-Ya
Recipe Type: Main
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups grits, such as Dixie Lily
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • One 14- to 16-ounce can creamed corn
  • Shredded smoked Gouda cheese
The Shrimp Ya Ya
  • 8 strips applewood smoked bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • White wine
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • ¼ cup diced scallions
  • 1 portobello mushroom caps , sliced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black p
For the grits:
  1. Pour the chicken stock into a heavy bottomed saucepan and turn on high till it boils. Mix in the grits and stir like crazy. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little cream if you need more liquid.Then, tumble in the butter, add the creamed corn, drizzle in the rest of the cream and stir until it’s mixed well.
  2. Shake in the shredded cheese and stir very well until it’s nice and smooth.
For the shrimp:
  1. While your grits cook, bring a large saucepan to medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and shallots and saute. Add the butter and a splash of white wine and cook until the butter is half melted, then add the shrimp. Cook until the downsides of the shrimp become white, then flip them and add the spinach, scallions and mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes.
  2. Remove the shrimp. Pour in the heavy cream and let simmer, stirring, until reduced by one-third. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. Return the shrimp and stir to combine.
  3. To plate, spoon the sauce onto heaping mounds of the cheese grits. Place the shrimp around the edges of the grits. Serve with French bread.
You can finely slice or grate a sweet potato and deep fry it to make the Sweet Potato Hay for the top of this dish. It adds a nice element of texture.


Susan Benton

Susan Benton is the go to resource for foodies visiting Pensacola to Panama City Beach. She is a food and travel journalist with published articles and photography in many local, regional and national publications. Her website is 30AEATS.com where she writes about the secrets of Gulf Coast food.

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