The locals love their Salt Potatoes, and they are on menus in Upstate NY from Albany to Buffalo and from Jamestown to Binghamton.
Why did salt potatoes become popular in update New York? Once covered by the ocean, Syracuse, NY, was once a major salt production center and is still known as the “Salt City.” It has a main drag named Salina Street, and the suburb of Liverpool even has a Salt Museum on the shores of Onondaga Lake, where, until 1920, brine from the salty marshes near the lake was converted to “white gold.”
The recipe for salt potatoes came about in the 1800s when, legend has it, Irish salt miners made lunch by putting potatoes in baskets and lowered them into the kettles of boiling brine. The spuds were then crowned with gobs of butter to cut the salt. Today they are so popular that groceries sell kits to make them — just bags of potatoes with the right amount of salt enclosed.
When I serve these potatoes with ribs, I eat both with my fingers and let the sauce, salt, and butter mix to create the best licking this side of an ice cream cone. These little nuggets are the perfect side dish for countless BBQ and grilling dishes but especially with other Upstate specialties: Cornell Chicken, Binghamton Spiedies, and Buffalo Chicken Wings. Leftovers reheat well in the microwave or fry and grill easily since there is so much butter on them. For a less salty, less buttery, and more grilled and crunchy take on the dish, try my recipe for Modern Grilled Salt Potatoes With Less Salt.
Makes:About 2 pounds
- 2 quarts water (half gallon)
- 1 pound Morton coarse kosher salt (about 2 cups)
- 2 pounds small waxy potatoes, new potatoes, or fingerlings
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (¾ stick)
- First, read my article on The Science of Potatoes.
- Prep. Wash the potatoes thoroughly, scrubbing them with a scrubby sponge. Make sure you get all the soap out of the sponge first, please. Cut out any bad spots or growing eyes, but leave the skin on and leave them whole.
- Cook. Bring the water to a hard boil. Add the salt and stir until dissolved. Add the taters, being careful not to splash yourself. Boil until a fork slides in and out of a potato with ease, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Pour the potatoes into a strainer or colander in the sink and drain. Let them sit for a few minutes and they should get a slight frosting of salt. If they are large-ish, you can cut them into smaller chunks at this stage if you wish. Or just leave them whole. Put the hot pot back on the burner and turn it to medium. Add the butter and melt it. Then add the potatoes and stir, coating them with butter.
- Serve. Serve immediately, but they are potatoes, so they'll stay warm for a while.