The first cut is the hardest

I might as well have stepped on it.

It’s common wisdom that a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one.  The reason is that you must struggle to get the blade through.  When that takes place, accidents can happen.  As a savant level klutz, I can speak to cuts.  It looks like I’ve had scarification tattoos from a particularly incompetent artist.

It’s not always this bad…

But let me clue ya.

A very sharp knife can cut you so fast and so cleanly that you don’t even know you’ve been sliced for hours.

Sur La Table (stores in Raleigh, Durham, and Greensboro), has a knife sharpening service.  I went, but was a little nervous, because some people who sharpen tools are aggressive and will take a blade from dull, to sharp, to stump.

But my prized possessions were in awful shape.  Whenever The Kid used one, I could hear my culinarily-trained child muttering “Holy frack, these knives are ding-dong-dull.”


My lethal babies.

So I took a leap of faith and dropped them off.  I took my paring knife, de-boner, Santoku, chef’s knife, and meat slicer.   In about two hours, I picked them up.

Those puppies had become scary sharp.  Within a week, I’d cut myself three times, with no more effort on my part than accidentally touching a blade.  I always hand-wash my knives, and they sliced my poor kitchen sponge to ribbons.  It was like sharing my kitchen with swashbuckler Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Suave and dangerous.

But I don’t think I could have made the dinner I did tonight with a dull blade.

I made a potato dish that is traditionally called “Hasselbeck potatoes”.  They’re roasted potatoes that are cut like an accordion almost, but not all the way through.  As they bake, they fan out a bit.


Ready for the oven.

I flavored these spuds to compliment the rest of our dinner.  But you can change it up to your taste and mood.  Just remove the 5-spice and mustard, and replace with something more to your liking.

No hassle baked potatoes

8 medium-large red skin potatoes, washed and dried

1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon

1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice

1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Water to thin sauce


Place potatoes on a large serving spoon.  Slice down using the spoon to keep from cutting all the way through.  Make parallel cuts 1/4 inch apart.


I promise this is easier than it looks.

Whisk up the rest of the ingredients, adding enough water to make it the thickness of heavy cream.

Using gloves, and one at a time, place potatoes in sauce, and rub them it over them. Then, very carefully, spread open slices and rub a little sauce into each cut.

Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into baking dish.  Place in coated potatoes.  Brush any remaining sauce over the potatoes, carefully getting into cuts.  If desired, lightly dust with smoked paprika. 

Bake for one hour.  Serves 4.


I was pretty nervous about cutting the spuds.  I had 10 pounds on hand, and I figured I’d go through a large majority of them before I got enough cut correctly just for Petey and me.

Well the combo of the sharp knife and using the spoon as training wheels worked like a charm.  I used four potatoes to get four successfully sliced potatoes.

So I think the moral to this story is to close your eyes, hold your nose, and jump in.  As long as you know how to swim, or you have a very sharp knife.

Thanks for your time.

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