Pensacola, Florida is our next stop as we continue our journey through international cuisine with Traveling Taste Buds. Chef Jim Shirley shared his recipe for Grits a Ya Ya from The Fish House Restaurant. Grits, coarsely ground corn or hominy, are a mainstay of Southern cuisine. It’s difficult to pick a star in this dish with smoked gouda and shrimp. Pensacola is the western-most city in the Florida pan-handle. After a busy day of touring, The Fish House, overlooking Pensacola Bay and Seville Harbor, is the perfect place to relax and enjoy fresh fish and seafood.
If you can’t make it to Pensacola, this recipe, originally published in Chef Jim Shirley’s “Southern Boy Cooks: Good Grits!” cookbook is sure to be a crowd favourite. Here is his take on how he created the dish:
“In 1998 I developed this Fish House favorite during the Mardi Gras season. Mardi Gras, properly celebrated, can sometimes last for days. Recognizing the toll this marathon celebration had on my friends, I created this fare that not only provided sustenance but tasted great too. Since then we’ve womped up about 50,000 dishes of my favorite child. Enjoy it at home with this recipe. Serves 4.”
Smoked Gouda Cheese Grits
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups grits
1/4 pound butter
1 can creamed corn (14-16 ounces)
Shredded smoked Gouda cheese
The Ya Ya
8 strips applewood smoked bacon, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced shallots
3 tbsp butter
1 lb peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp
1 portobello mushroom cap, sliced
1/4 cup diced scallions
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 cups heavy cream
3 cups smoked Gouda cheese grits (recipe above)
Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste
First, make your 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 allow to cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cream if you need more liquid. Then tumble in the butter, add creamed corn, drizzle in the rest of the cream and stir till it’s all in the family. Then shake in the shredded cheese and stir very well till it’s all nice and smooth.
While your grits cook, bring a large saucepan to medium heat. Add bacon and cook for about 3 minutes, then add garlic and shallots. Sauté and then add butter and a splash of white wine. When butter is half melted, add the shrimp. When the downsides of the shrimp become white, flip them and add mushrooms, scallions and spinach. Sauté for 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp. Pour in heavy cream and let simmer while stirring. When reduced by 1/3, add salt, pepper and hot sauce. Return shrimp to sauce and combine. Spoon the sauce and shrimp onto heaping mounds of cheese grits.