July 23, 2009

Salt Potatoes!

If you live in Central New York, you are definitely familiar with these little babies. They are tiny potatoes, packaged in 5 pound bags, and sold with a big, bag of salt. Many restaurants and outdoor clambakes serve them, and they are sold by the dozens at the New York State Fair in little paper cartons. The skins are paper thin, and they cook white and tender on the inside. Cooking them in heavily salted water gives them a surprisingly wonderful flavor.

Now, just a bit of history. Syracuse, New York is also known as "The Salt City" because this area prospered in salt mines. (There is even a salt museum in the Town of Liverpool.) In the 1800's, salt mine workers used to throw potatoes in salt brine to cook during their lunch breaks, and this is the rumored birth of the infamous salt potato. (Okay, lesson's over...wake up!)

When you try salt potatoes, the consensus is "the saltier, the better." It just isn't a backyard barbecue around here unless there's a big bowl of them soaking in melted butter. The potatoes used are like little creamers, or boiling potatoes, but I'm sure you could use any small, tender potato. Size wise, you want nothing larger than the palm of your hand.

First, you're going to scrub them clean (don't peel them!), place them in a large pot, dump as much salt as you think you can stand (usually about 1/4 cup or more for 20 potatoes), and fill up the pot with cold water.
Bring to a boil, and simmer until nice and tender; about 20-25 minutes. Be sure to place a cover on the pot, otherwise you'll have salt deposits all over your stove and counter. Drain, pour melted butter over the tops, and sprinkle with a little bit of kosher salt. For variation, you can also serve these as a stuffed appetizer....Hollow out little, cooked potatoes with a small spoon or melon baller.Place scooped out potatoes in a small bowl; add grated cheddar, parsley, chopped scallions, a dollop of sour cream, and a bit of cracked, black pepper...Mash ingredients together with a fork. Carefully fill each potato; and sprinkle with finely chopped bacon and extra parsley. Bake at 350 degrees (or place on the grill - indirect heat) just until heated through.

Viva la summer!!!!!

1 comment:

CheapAppetite said...

I agree with you that there's no need to peel these potatoes. Their skin tastes great. And you get more nutrition this way.