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Mistake #2: Cooking Everything—Seriously, Everything—in It
When it comes to desert-island pans (which would you bring if you were stranded in the middle of nowhere?), the cast-iron skillet has to top the list. It's a workhorse that can handle everything from roasted chicken to mac 'n' cheese to cookies. Dish you should avoid, though, are acidic foods that require a longish cooking time (think: a Sunday tomato sauce or chili, both of which can bubble away for hours). Foods high in acid won't damage your pan; but, especially if the pan isn't yet highly seasoned, they can take on a metallic taste, which is safe but not necessarily pleasant. So, while a squirt of lemon juice at the end of cooking is fine, if you're planning to simmer dishes that contain tomatoes or citrus juices for hours, opt for stainless steel instead. (This rule doesn't apply to enameled cast iron, which isn't affected by acidity.)