Photo: Susan Benton

Shrimp & Grits A Ya Ya

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


  • cups chicken stock
  • cups grits, such as Dixie Lily
  • cup heavy cream
  • ounces unsalted butter
  • One 14- to 16-ounce can creamed corn
  • 1 cup 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: 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.

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 plate, spoon the sauce onto heaping mounds of the cheese grits. Place the shrimp around the edges of the grits. Serve with French bread.

Note: 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.

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

Food Photos: Susan Benton

29 thoughts on “Shrimp & Grits A-Ya-Ya”

  1. Just got home from Seaside tonight. This dish was absolutely my favorite meal the entire week we were there. I will be trying this recipe ASAP!! Thank you for posting.

  2. Oh, wow! That is some praise. It certainly is delicious!

  3. Hi! It serves 4-6 depending on how hungry your eaters are. I can’t begin to tell you the calories with the heavy cream and cheese, it will be more than the norm. It’s a delicious dish!

  4. Just curious, how many people does this recipe serve and how many calories per serving??

  5. If I were going to the chair… this would be my last meal request. It’s great at The Great Southern but this recipe is actually better.

    Enjoy that glass of wine while your cooking.

  6. Made it last night for the Super Bowl. Just as good as I remember from 30A. Will make it again, and again, and again. Great easy to follow recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Thank you for commenting, and so glad you love it as much as we do!

  8. We drive 700 miles from SW Missouri at least once a year for this dish at Great Southern Cafe. Well worth the trip. Love Seaside and the Cafe.

  9. This is my favorite all time dish when I visit the 30A area. This dish and their monitors are the bomb diggity!!! Thank you for sharing.

  10. Hi Dorel! It is a cajun blackened seasoning made in house. They can be dusted with it prior to cooking. Try Tony Chachere’s salt free, Slap Ya Mama low sodium, or the tried and true Old Bay!

  11. 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.

  12. 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??

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

    Help with this….

  14. 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.

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

  16. 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!!!

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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?

  21. 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.

  22. 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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