Russell’s Russets

Steak fries on steroids. That’s how I first thought of these spuds when The Mr. made them about a month ago. Savory and crispy on the outside, super tender and creamy on the inside. A perfect accompaniment to his birthday dinner of grilled baby back ribs and a Tex-Mex slaw.

And speaking of his birthday, pretty much every gift he received had something to do with cooking/food. One of which is his new pride and joy, the Dao Vua hand-carved carbon steel cleaver made in Vietnam and sold through Bernal Cutlery on the West Coast (Oakland, CA). It truly is a work of art. They’re so popular, they are completely out of stock, so I’m glad I ordered it months ahead of time.

Bernal Cutlery opened for business in 2005 and specializes in all things knife related. Using time-honored Japanese Whetstone grinding techniques—and finishing by hand with a modified version of an old fashioned Barber’s strop—it offers peerless sharpening services, as well as very high caliber new knives, collectable and vintage models, classes in care and sharpening as well as hosting sessions on knife skills. This sharpening approach results in edges that are sharper, longer lasting and produce far less metal removal making for less wear on the knife.

But I digress. The very first thing he cut with that knife was the russet potatoes. And it was smooth sailing for sure. Not that potatoes are hard to cut, it’s just the experience of holding reverence in your hand while doing a mundane task, kind of elevates the process to another level.

The recipe came about one day when Russ had a hankering for sumac. A few weeks back, these very spuds were a side dish for our Seared Pork Tenderloin with Smoked Paprika and Oregano dinner. For some reason sumac is one of those spices that isn’t necessarily first and foremost in my mind, but I’m glad he took it out of hibernation.

Ground sumac is a versatile spice with a tangy lemony flavor, although more balanced and less tart than lemon juice. While having a diverse flavor profile, sumac blends exceptionally well with other spices such as allspice, chili, thyme, and cumin—the latter of which he also included.

Be generous with the olive oil, and make sure to fully coat the baking sheet and preheat it in the oven. When you first lay the wedges on it, you should hear a sizzle that lets you know the cooking process has already started even before you pop the pan back in the oven. After you flipped the spuds for the second 20 minutes, test with a knife tip to see if it easily pierces the potato. If, not cook 5 more minutes and test again.

These would also go well with a nice grilled steak—just in time for the holiday weekend. Enjoy!

Russell's Russets

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 medium russet potatoes, cut into 8 wedges each
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground sumac
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Grease a large rimmed baking liberally with 1/3 cup of the EVOO, spread evenly. Place the baking sheet in the oven while it preheats.
  3. Put the potato wedges in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the remaining EVOO over the potatoes, add all of the seasonings, and mix well.
  4. When the oven reaches temperature, pull out the baking sheet (use a mitt so as not to burn your hand) and arrange the potatoes without them touching each other. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Increase the temperature to 425° while you turn the potatoes over and then return the pan to the oven for another 20 minutes.

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