Age of Iron

Cast-iron pans regain domestic roots

Most historic cooking instruments have long since grown obsolete, their spots on kitchen shelves replaced by shiny, sleek newcomers.

Not so with the cast-iron skillet. Inseparable from American cuisine, many of the stalwart skillets have been passed down through generations.

But despite cast-iron cookware's revered role, very few are produced domestically. In fact, Lodge Manufacturing, a family-owned company based in Pittsburg, Tennessee, is the only major foundry still making cast-iron pans in the States (click here to buy).

Luckily, a new era of American cast iron is emerging thanks to two small design efforts. The first, Borough Furnace, is the project of cousins and Tennessee natives Jason Connelly and John Truex. To create their cast-iron product line, the two built a custom furnace in upstate New York that runs on waste vegetable oil. They expect the products to be available by the holidays.

And Chicago-based ODLCO has created the Wabi Nabe, a small cast-iron pot perfectly sized for a whole chicken dinner. It is forged at a small foundry in Wisconsin and comes with an iron trivet for easy stove-to-table transfer.

Revive your relationship with cast iron with our recipe for buttermilk drop biscuits (click here to see). Cooked in a skillet, their fluffy centers are surrounded by a barely crisp exterior.

Here's to more irons in the fire.