Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Syracuse Salt Potatoes

I'm sure this will come as no surprise, but I got a new cookbook for Christmas (Cook's Country 2008)!  This one features regional faves from around the U.S.  I've browsed it twice and used one of the recipes last night with grilled ribeyes and steamed broccoli.  It caught my eye because 1) I'd never heard of it before 2) the picture was intriguing and 3) it is ridiculously simple.
1914: John Hinerwadel put these on his clambake company's menu.  They became so popular, he started selling these "kits"

Syracuse Salt Potatoes 

I'll paraphrase from the cookbook...this recipe calls for merely boiling whole potatoes in VERY salty water.  The salt concentration boils at a higher temperature causing the starch to cook completely, resulting in a creamy potato interior. The salt then forms a crust on the skin so no additional seasoning is needed.  Traditionally, people eat them with melted butter for dipping.  The recipe writer jazzed it up with fresh chives.  Also, it was noted that if you use regular table salt, that you use NON-iodized to avoid a mineral flavor.  Lastly, why are these so popular in Syracuse, New York and how did they come to be?  Apparently in the  mid-1800s, Irish salt mine workers threw whole potatoes into evaporation vats full of boiling salt water.  If anybody can cook a potato, it's the Irish!

  • 8 cups water
  • 14 oz salt 
(use 1 1/4 cups of NON-iodized salt OR 1 1/2 cups Morton Kosher salt OR 2 1/2 cups of Diamond Crystal Kosher salt [I don't know why this Kosher salt is different than Morton, but apparently it is]) 
  • 3 lb small white or red potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 stick (8Tbs) butter
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp pepper
Bring water to a boil in Dutch oven over med-high heat.  Stir in salt & potatoes. Cook until potatoes are just tender, 20-30 minutes.

Drain and then place them on a rack set over a baking sheet.  Let them dry until a salt crust forms, about 1 minute.  

Meanwhile, microwave butter, chives & pepper until melted.  (I skipped this; just served with a little plain butter).

So, that's it.  It's so crazily easy that it makes me laugh that I actually just wrote that down.  And all you Sodium Psychos out there can relax...the interior of the potato stays nice and soft and creamy and the salt remains on the exterior.  So, don't eat the skin.  But, the nice little bit of salty crust in a bite is quite good.  At least that's my take on it.

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