Grits are a favorite in the southern US. It’s mainly eaten for breakfast, similarly to porridge, although it has made its way on to the dinner plate as well. You will frequently find grits served as a side with seafood (shrimp, catfish or scallops). Cheese, bacon, fried onions or butter may be added to dress it for an upscale entrée. Another interesting dish I have come across in the south is grit balls, which is essential hush puppies made with grits. They are soft and creamy inside with a crispy fried crust on the outside. Delicious!
I first heard about Logan Turnpike Mill when my friend, chef Nancy Waldeck cooked a breakfast for Atlanta’s Food Bloggers at the Cook’s Warehouse. She made some shrimp and grits which were really yummy! I remember her mentioning that she bought the grits from Whole Foods, but they were a special kind, the ones that need to be refrigerated. They were made by Logan Turnpike Mill, a 27 year old mill located in Blairsville, GA (about 2 hours north of Atlanta).
What’s special about the stone ground grits, corn bread mix and pancake mix from Logan Turnpike is that they are kept in their natural form. Therefore, the flour has a coarser texture. The oils and grains derived from the corn are kept intact when milling, so the need to be refrigerated or frozen. Other over the counter grits are essentially de-germinated commercial flour that does not perish quickly. You will find that Logan’s grits have more richness, flavor and nutrition. Even Paula Deen endorsed them when she used Logan Turnpike in her shrimp and creamy cheddar grits recipe published in the magazine, Cooking with Paula Deen.
George and Cecilia Holland have been running the Logan Turnpike Mill for 27 years now. They have a little mill and store in Blairsville, GA where they stone grind dry corn to make grits and flour. With only a couple of heavy duty equipments, George does everything himself, the old fashioned way. He will be more than happy to show you his collection of mills of all sizes and ages. (I asked him to create a museum next door and he agreed.) The couple spends a lot of time on the road, hosting booths at festivals and shows. They have been working alongside for three decades now and still keep the spark alive!
The products are supplied to many restaurants in Atlanta and some grocers, including Whole Foods. You can also order directly from their website. If you can get your hands on a bag from Logan Turnpike Mill, try out this recipe that George shared with me…
George’s Favorite Grits Casserole
Measure 1 cup grits and 4 cups water in a heavy saucepan. Add 1 small chopped onion and 2 gloves crushed garlic. Cook for 20 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat and add ¼ cup margarine or butter, 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and 3 lightly beaten eggs. Mix well, and then pour into a 2 quart greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon paprika and bake at 275F for 1 hour or until golden brown.
Logan Turnpike Mill is located on U.S. 19/129 5 miles south of Blairsville GA at mile marker #8. The store is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-5pm except for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.