True Grit

Four fantastic new options from the gristmill

Thanks to Joe Pesci's classic courtroom rant in My Cousin Vinnie, almost everybody knows what grits are. This creamy Southern staple–considered by many to be the original soul food–is served alongside everything from shrimp to sausage. And thanks to a new crop of artisans, we have more options for great grits than ever before.

For years, most cooks looking for an artisanal alternative to the ubiquitous Quaker brand had only one option: Anson Mills. This Columbia, South Carolina-based company has dominated the heirloom-grits scene since it launched in 1997, thanks to a cultishly loyal chef base and wide distribution. But these four producers have brought some diversity to the market, and in the process are leading a Grits Belt renaissance.

Boykin Mill Farms (Rembert, South Carolina) These old-fashioned yellow grits are ground in a water-powered mill and come in old-school paper or cloth bags ($5 for a two-pound bag; boykinmillfarms.com).

Carolina Plantation (Darlington, South Carolina) In the unofficial home of NASCAR, local farmers use granite stones to produce these course-ground grits. ($4 for a two-pound bag; carolinaplantationrice.com).

Mill of Old Guilford (Oak Ridge, North Carolina) Heirloom white corn and a made-to-order philosophy set these speckled grits apart from the pack ($15 for 2 two-pound bags; boiledpeanuts.com).

Mills Farm (Athens, Georgia) Tim and Alice Mills rely on one acre of corn and a trusty mule to produce the Red Mule grits local chef Hugh Acheson loves (redmulegrits.com; call 706-543-8113 for current prices).