Salt potatoes are one of those regional dishes that I didn’t even realize was regional until I moved away from home. Growing up in Western New York, salt potatoes were the quintessential summer side dish. Served with grilled chicken or steak – and alongside equally buttery sweet corn – salt potatoes were always eaten out at the picnic table with the setting summer sun in the distance. It was only when I moved away from Western New York and would occasionally wax poetic on the sublimeness of summer salt potatoes that I realized something – no one knew what I was talking about.
Apparently a central New York delicacy (thank you Wikipedia), salt potatoes were created by salt mine workers in Syracuse, NY who would boil their potatoes in the leftover salty brine. Growing up, ours always came in a bag with a pouch of salt attached. While I had no hopes of of finding Hinerwadel’s salt potatoes in a Nashville grocery store, I figured I would find an alternative small potato and just wing it.
My online research suggested a cup of table salt dissolved in 3 quarts of water would equal the erstwhile super saturated brine (from Hinerwadel’s) that I was used to. I had found tiny Yukon Gold potatoes in the grocery store (fingerling potatoes could work as well). I added them to the brine, brought to a boil and cooked till fork tender. Drained, the potatoes appear a bit odd; wrinkled and salt-encrusted, they look like sad, rejected potatoes not worthy of your time. But just bite through the tight, salty skin and the extremely tender flesh just melts in your mouth. Drenched in melted butter, they taste like nothing else – no, scratch that – drenched in melted butter, the taste reminds me of the long evenings of a Western New York summer….
1 bag of small potatoes
1 cup of salt
3 quarts of water
Combine the salt and the water and stir to dissolve. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer until fork tender. Drain and serve with copious amounts of melted butter.