I saw this recipe a couple of weeks ago on the blog Sinfully Tempting. I had never heard of salt potatoes – evidently they are a regional specialty of Syracuse, New York. From the description, I knew we had to try them. I read the recipe to Rich and Calvin and we decided to make them that night for dinner.
The concept is simple: you cook potatoes in heavily salted water to mimic cooking them in water from salt marshes. In the “olden days,” salt workers in New York took raw potatoes to work for lunch. They would cook the potatoes right in the vats of salt water they were boiling down to make salt.
The original post mentioned that the large amount of salt raises the boiling point of the water. I had to check this out, and it is true, at least according the sites I found. If I did the math and the metric conversions properly, and if the formula I was using is accurate, the boiling point of the water with that salt concentration is 216° F instead of 212°. No idea if this really affects how the potatoes cook, but they were extremely creamy and soft inside their salty skins.
At first I was taken aback at the amount of salt, but I followed the directions for once. And we weren’t disappointed. The potatoes were velvety and smooth inside their sparkly, salty crusts. A drizzle of butter and they were spectacular.
The hardest part of this recipe was finding small potatoes. Sinfully Tempting recommended only white or yellow potatoes. She said the skins on red potatoes are too thin for the crust to form properly. I might have to test that theory next time, as new red potatoes are easier to find here than any other kind. Our potatoes were small, but they weren’t quite bite-sized, as specified in the original recipe. We were fine with cutting them into smaller pieces on our plates.
One word of warning – this is a lot of salt. It makes the water pop and spit salt residue all over the stove. It was nothing that a quick wipe down didn’t take care of, but it was a little surprising.
I think these would be spectacular to serve as appetizers at a party, if you can find tiny potatoes – hors d’oeuvre and conversation starter in one. Or just enjoy them as a new alternative to mashed or baked potatoes.
EDIT: I tried using new red potatoes and they worked just fine. The salt crust might have been a little thinner than on the yellow potatoes, but they were still wonderful.
Adapted by The Cook’s Life
from Sinfully Tempting
1½ pounds small potatoes
6 cups water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons table salt
3-4 tablespoons butter, melted
Scrub potatoes well – you will be eating the skins. Combine the water and the salt in a pot that has at least a 3-quart capacity. The salt may not all dissolve, that is okay. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
Once the water boils, add the potatoes. Lower the heat to medium and cover partially. Gently boil the potatoes for 15-20 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Salt and water may pop and spit. It cleans up easily and the mess is worth it.
Once potatoes are tender, use tongs to remove them to a wire cooking rack to dry and cool just a bit. The skins will look white and crusty with salt, which is what you want.
Serve potatoes hot, with melted butter for dipping or drizzling. Leftovers reheat well in the microwave. The salt crust will not be as evident on the leftovers, but you will still taste it.