Simple Garden Recipes: Syracuse Salt Potatoes

Syracuse Salt Potatoes with melted butter.

As we often mention in the blog, there are a few flavor combinations that just seem to always work. Our favorite is tomato/mozzarella/basil, but potato/fat/salt isn’t far behind. And when making potatoes we either steam / fry them in herbs and brown butter or we make Syracuse Salt Potatoes. And, believe it or not, these potatoes are not too salty. But they are very, very tasty. And easy to make.

Syracuse Salt Potatoes with rosemary lamb tenderloin and butter lettuce salad.

And, yes, the recipe does include a lot of salt, but very little ends up on the potatoes. What the salt really does in raise the relative boiling point of the water (chemistry alert). This lets the starches in the potatoes cook more, so you get a creamier potato- more like a baked potato. And once you remove the potatoes from the salty water a fine salt crust will form on the potatoes, and it is just the right amount. Then serve with melted butter and add black pepper and a few herbs if you like. All in about twenty minutes.

Don’t worry, the salt washes away easily.

The history of this dish is classically American. A bunch of Irish immigrants ended up working in the salt industry near Syracuse, New York. The workers brought potatoes, and they already had salt. Presto, salt potatoes. And unlike many food histories, this one does seem to be true. To this day in central New York they sell potatoes in bags with salt. All you need to do is boil water and melt butter.

And it is that easy. The general ratio is a cup of salt to 6 cups of water. If using more flaky Kosher salt, increase the salt to 1 and 1/2 cups. Bring the salt and water to a boil, the salt will dissolve and then add the potatoes. And small “new” red or yellow potatoes are best in this dish, we used our crop from the weekend. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the insides of the potatoes are tender (just pull one out, let it cool and try it). Meanwhile, melt about 6 tablespoons of butter. When the potatoes are done, place them on a rack or sheet and leave them alone for a minute so the salt crust can set. Then serve with the melted butter. And there you have it, potatoes, fat and salt- very few things taste better.

Syracuse Salt Potatoes:

Notes Before You Start:

  • “New” potatoes with their small size and thin skins work best. Red or yellow new potatoes are fine. We prefer small Yukon Gold potatoes.
  • If you need more water to cover the potatoes in the pot, just increase the water and salt using the 6-to-1 water to salt ratio.
  • Kosher salt is more flaky than table salt and, if using, you need to use more. Add about 50% if using Morton’s Kosher salt and double the salt if using Diamond Crystal Kosher salt.

What You Get: Tasty, pre-seasoned potatoes with great texture.

What You Need: A lot of salt. No special equipment required.

How Long? About 25 minutes. Anytime dish.

Ingredients:

(Serves 6-8 as a side)

  • 3-4 pounds of small new potatoes, washed
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 cup of table salt or 1 and 1/2 cups Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • Chopped fresh herbs (optional)
  • Fresh ground black pepper (optional)

Assemble:

  1. In a medium pot add the water and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and cook for about 20 minutes or until the insides are tender. Meanwhile, melt the butter on the stove or in the microwave.
  2. When the potatoes are done, remove them from the pot and lay them on a baking sheet or rack. Leave the potatoes alone for one minute or until a thin salt crust forms. Serve with the melted butter and the herbs and pepper, if using.
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19 thoughts on “Simple Garden Recipes: Syracuse Salt Potatoes

  1. Wow! I really never met a potato I didn’t like, but this is very new to me and sounds so good. Potatoes-fat-salt can’t go wrong. I appreciated the chemistry lesson, too. I like to know the how and why.

  2. This is one of my favorites! (Althoug I have many when it comes to potatoes!!) I have used this method of preparing quick potatoes for my husband with his favorite “meat and potato” dishes. I find that it works well with all waxy potato varietals, we expecially like purple salt potatoes and fingerling salt potatoes. Thanks for sharing!
    ~ Jen

    • Thanks for the visit. And yes, this is a great dish. We need to try it with our purple potatoes, as it may help with the texture a bit.

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