Grits à Ya Ya, made famous by the Fish House in Pensacola, takes cheesy smoked Gouda grits and tops it with perfectly seasoned shrimp and a creamy spinach and mushroom sauce. As an added bonus, finish it with a garnish of fried carrot strings just like the Fish House does. It’s absolutely incredible, albeit a bit on the high calorie side!
Ingredients for Grits à Ya Ya:
I used the following ingredients: Carrots, Kosher salt, vegetable oil, chicken broth, quick grits, unsalted butter, smoked Gouda cheese, bacon, shallots, garlic, dry white wine, fresh shrimp, spinach, portobello mushrooms, green onions, freshly ground black pepper, and heavy cream.
Making the Fried Carrot Strings for Garnish:
First, I shredded a peeled carrot and spread the carrots on paper towels. Then, I sprinkled the carrots with some Kosher salt. I gave the carrots a toss and let them stand for about 30 minutes. The reason for doing this was to extract excess moisture from the carrots. After 30 minutes, I squeezed as much liquid as possible from the carrots, and fried them for several minutes in hot oil. When they were crisp, I removed the carrot strings from the oil and drained them on paper towels.
Making the Smoked Gouda Grits:
The original Fish House recipe for Grits à Ya Ya called for old-fashioned grits. I saw no reason to spend the extra money on old-fashioned grits, so used quick grits instead (do not use instant grits). I can’t imagine that using old-fashioned grits would have made a difference.
First, I added the chicken broth to a large saucepan, and brought it to a boil over high heat. Then, I slowly added the grits to the boiling broth. After giving the grits a good stir, I reduced the heat to low, and simmered the grits until they were thick and tender. This took about 30 minutes. Next, I added the butter and shredded cheese, and stirred the grits until the cheese was melted and the grits were creamy smooth. Talk about good!
Making the Sauce and Shrimp for Grits à Ya Ya:
While the grits were cooking, I cooked the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until the bacon was nicely browned. Then, I added the shallots and cooked them until they were tender, about 5 minutes. Next, I added the garlic and cooked the mixture until the garlic was fragrant, about 30 seconds. I added the white wine, and stirred to combine everything. Then, I added the shrimp in a single layer, and cooked them until they were bright pink on both sides. This took several minutes.
When the shrimp were done, I removed them from the skillet. Then, I added the spinach, mushrooms, and green onions to the skillet. I stirred everything together, and cooked the mixture until the spinach had wilted. This took several minutes. Then, I stirred in the cream.
I simmered the sauce until it thickened and was reduced by about a third. This took about 10 minutes. After seasoning the sauce with salt and pepper, I returned the shrimp to the skillet. I heated the sauce for several minutes to ensure that the shrimp were heated through.
Serving the Grits à Ya Ya:
I placed a mound of the smoked Gouda grits on a plate. Then, I arranged the shrimp around the mound of grits. I spooned on some of the creamy spinach and mushroom sauce. Finally, I topped the Grits à Ya Ya with the fried carrot strings, and added some freshly baked crusty French bread. The Grits à Ya Ya was absolutely incredible! Even the Master Taste Tester who has an aversion to grits agreed. Yum!