Grits A Ya Ya – Signature dish of chef Jim Shirley

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is proud to present this week’s Emeril’s Florida. On Sunday’s show, celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse will feature restaurants in Pensacola.

“This unique series, hosted by Chef Emeril, gives viewers the chance to experience some of the best food Florida has to offer,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “We believe this show will motivate people across the country to visit Florida and taste the state’s vibrant flavors at our wonderful restaurants.”

Chef Emeril Lagasse with Chef Jim Shirley at Pensacola Fish House

Emeril begins this week’s show at “McGuire’s Irish Pub” in Pensacola, renowned for its freshly brewed beers. He then heads to “The Fish House” restaurant and samples their various dishes. At “Joe Patti’s Seafood,” Frank Patti gives him a tour and shares tips on buying fish. Finally, Emeril and his son EJ head to Pensacola Beach, taking a ride on the Ferris wheel as well as sampling local seafood. The show airs Sunday, March 17th, at 9:30 a.m. CST on the Cooking Channel, and again on Monday, March 18th, at 8:30 a.m. CST. Please check local listings.

Emeril’s Florida is a 13 episode series highlighting the Sunshine State through the eyes of Emeril on-location with a focus on food, cooking, events and activities around the state. Throughout the series, Emeril will be visiting Florida’s top restaurants and resorts. He will also prepare some of his favorite recipes which often will feature some of the best seafood Florida has to offer.

The program is sponsored by the FRLA, VISIT FLORIDA and the Florida Association of Broadcasters. For additional information on the series, including links to previous episodes, please go to

Grits A Ya Ya

Jim Shirley’s Grits A Ya Ya:

Served at Great Southern Cafe in Seaside & Pensacola Fish House in Downtown Pensacola


  • cups chicken stock
  • cups grits, such as Dixie Lily
  • cup heavy cream
  • ounces unsalted butter
  • One 14- to 16-ounce can creamed corn
  • Shredded smoked Gouda cheese
 The Shrimp Ya Ya
  • strips applewood smoked bacon, diced
  • tablespoon minced garlic
  • tablespoon minced shallots
  • tablespoons unsalted butter
  • White wine
  • pound peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp
  • cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup diced scallions
  • 1 portobello mushroom caps , sliced
  • cups heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Hot sauce


For the grits: Run the chicken stock into a thick-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 all in the family.

Shake in the shredded cheese and stir very well until it’s nice and smooth.

For the shrimp: 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.

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.

To serve, spoon the sauce and shrimp onto heaping mounds of the cheese grits.

Great Southern Cafe, Seaside Florida & Pensacola Fish House, Downtown Pensacola, Florida

Food Photos: Susan Benton

15 thoughts on “Chef Jim Shirley Shares Shrimp & Grits A-Ya-Ya Recipe on Emeril’s Florida

  1. What are the shrimp seasoned with. They tasted like they were Cajun seasoned. I just had this amazing dish at the Fish House in Pensacola. Loved it.

  2. So excited to see this recipe as this is my favorite dish when I visit the area.
    One quick question – how much smoked gouda do you use??

  3. Is there anyone out there that knows how to make Great Southern Cafe mojito’s? I mean with even specific brands?????

    Help with this….

  4. I’ve been making this dish since it was originally published in the PNJ and it’s always a hit! My husband isn’t a huge fan of shrimp so when I’m feeling extra nice, I substitute andouille sausage for the shrimp! Definitely not figure friendly but it’s delicious.

  5. So glad you enjoyed your shrimp & grits + the fresh Grouper too! 🙂

  6. My wife and I ate there over the holiday it was our first time. I got the YAYA and it is superb, thanks for sharing recipe. We also bought 2 shirts.
    Love it from Louisiana!!!

  7. Just had dinner there – shrimp and grits were divine, as was my husband’s grouper.

  8. Are you kidding me! The recipe online. Had this the other day at Great Southern Cafe! Recommended by our waiter and it didn’t disappoint! Going to the market to get the ingredients for dinner.

  9. Awesome recipe ate it at Great Southern cafe at Santarosa beach for lunch today GOOD grits for sure. Can’t believe that the recipe is posted. Can’t wait to try and create it in Kentucky. Gonna buy fresh gulf shrimp and freeze them for the ride home. Thanks Chef

  10. Iam in loooooovvvvveeeee with this dish. Visited the FIS House during PenSaCon.
    It was fabulous !! I’ve been thinking about this dish ever since. So, iam going to try and tackle it tonight for dinner.
    I usually bake and cook dishes my grandmother taught me, so we will see.
    Just curious though, what are the orange crunch toppings on top?

  11. Amazing! Had this dish at the Great Southern in Seaside last year. Happy to say it is just as good when you make it at home.

  12. Thank you for posting this! I had this at the Fish House at my work Christmas party and was in love! So glad I can now try to make it myself for Christmas at home with my family!

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