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!
- 1 large carrot peeled and shredded
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 3/4 cup quick grits do not use instant grits
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese 4 ounces
- 8 slices bacon chopped
- 1 shallot minced (about 2 Tablespoons)
- 5 cloves garlic minced (about 1 Tablespoon)
- 2 Tablespoons dry white wine
- 1 pound large shrimp 16 to 20 peeled and deveined, with tails left on
- 2 cups fresh chopped spinach
- 1 cup chopped portobello mushrooms
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions white and green parts
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Spread shredded carrots on paper towels; sprinkle on 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt. Toss to coat; allow to sit for 30 minutes. Gather paper towels; squeeze liquid from carrots. Fry in hot oil (375° F) for several minutes until lightly browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Slowly add grits to boiling chicken broth, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; simmer until the grits are tender and thick, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add butter and shredded cheese; stir until cheese is melted and grits are smooth.
While the grits are cooking, cook bacon in a large, deep skillet over medium heat until the bacon fat is rendered, and the bacon is browned, about 10 minutes.
- Add the shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic; cook until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the white wine. Cook and stir for several minutes.
- Add the shrimp in a single layer to skillet; cook and stir until they are bright pink on both sides on the outside and the meat is no longer transparent in the center, about 3 minutes. Remove shrimp with slotted spoon.
- Stir in the spinach, mushrooms, and green onions. Cook and stir until the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes more.
- Stir in 1 cup heavy cream. Simmer until the sauce has thickened and reduced by about a third, about 10 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt, and pepper.
- Return the shrimp to the skillet to heat through.
- Place mound of Gouda grits on plate. Arrange shrimp around grits, and on spoon sauce. Garnish with fried carrot strings.
- Yield: 4 servings.