April 18, 2005

Crystal Potatoes

Crystal Potatoes
Originally uploaded by drmomentum.
On Saturday I cooked Alton Brown's recipe for perfect fingerling potatoes.

The market here doesn't have fingerlings, so I used small white potatoes instead.

The amazing thing about this recipe is that you boil the potatoes in 2 quarts of water with 1 1/4 pounds of salt. The salt had a great effect on the cooking of the taters. The outcome is more like baked or roasted potatoes, rather than boiled.

I think this is because the salt water boils at a higher temperature, more like baking than boiling. And the salt seems to prevent the potatoes from getting waterlogged.

In the final step of the recipe, you pull the potatoes out of the water and place them on a cooling rack for 5 minutes or so. As I pulled them out of the water, the salt began to crystalize on the surface of the potatoes, making a delicious salty coating.

I think that it came out slightly saltier than it was supposed to because I allowed too much water to boil off, concentrating and crystalizing the salt on the surface of the water. Next time I will either use a little less salt, or cook it in a larger pot, covered.

The potatoes were tender and perfect, and the salt was, after all, yummy.
Posted by James at April 18, 2005 5:06 PM
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Those look good! I shall have to try some Alton brown cooking. But first I have a little Martin Yan to work on. Got a "Yan Can Cook" rice cooker and it has a bunch of recipes.

Posted by: briwei at April 18, 2005 6:37 PM

These are called salt potatoes in upstate New York, where they are a tradition, and are made with new potatoes rather than fingerlings. In fact you can buy bags of "salt potatoes" which are just new potatoes with a bag of salt included.

Posted by: NYCO at April 18, 2005 9:20 PM

Salt Potatoes are a Central New York summer staple. Growing up in CNY - I prefer eating them with a side if corn on the cob, and a Hofmann (Coney)Snappy Griller available at ( www.hofmannsausage.com ).

The Original SALT POTATOES were coined in 1914 by John Hinerwadel in North Syracuse NY 13212. They were an accompanyment to the families clam bakes (Steamed Clams).

As stated in an exerpt from 10/09/02 Syracuse New Times newspaper, "Few people outside Syracuse know of those delightful nuggets invented at the height of the local salt industry: salt potatoes. In fact, salt potatoes are to Syracuse what chicken wings are to Buffalo... It's Syracuse's blue-collar roots that led to the invention of salt potatoes. Local salt workers, many of them Irish, toiling along Solar Street and Onondaga Lake, evaporated salt from water by boiling the brine in large vats. Since the water was hot anyway, they plunked small tubers into the brine for a cheap lunch.Today, no clambake would be complete without a half-dozen or so salt potatoes, accompanied by butter for dipping. It's no accident that Hinerwadel's, that North Syracuse home of sumptuous clambakes, packages salt potatoes in five-pound bags for sale in grocery stores to be enjoyed at home."

I have tried "homemade" versions using B-red and NEW Potatoes but have found the taste to not be correct. The Bag of Original Hinerwadel's Salt Potatoes states: 4 1/4 Lbs U.S. No. 2 Potatoes (Min 1"-Max 2 1/4", 12 oz. Salt.

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS: Place 2 Quarts of water in a pot with entire contents of the salt packet and bring to boil. Add all the potatoes and cook about 20 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain & serve Hot. Dip cooked potatoes in melted butter just before eating. Leave skins on as they're the best part.

I hope this helps you enjoy the great taste of Salt Potatoes, just like I have my whole Life.

The Original Hinerwadels Salt Potatoes are available in season at http://www.tasteofcny.com/index.htm

Posted by: Scott Mahaffy at May 5, 2005 2:26 PM

Mmmmm. Potatoes.

This is not helping me get control of my eating.

The little white potatoes I used are quite good. It looks like you're using less salt than I used, which is a good thing. Mine were yummy, but too salty.

I tried again a few days later with less salt and a little more water and had better results.

Thanks for the recipe.

Posted by: James at May 5, 2005 2:39 PM

Thanks to an introduction by my Rochester NY son and his inlaws,we have been enjoying salt potatoes in Edmonton Canada for years. I call it my secret recipe and no one knows different.
I have been told that salt potatoes are sold by venders at ball games. Is this true? Can anybody tell me how to get in touch with such a vender? The entrepeneurial side of me thinks this could be a good business. I just need to talk with a pro.
Gerald in Edmonton.

Posted by: Gerald Garratt at May 30, 2005 2:02 PM

My husband and I were up in Utica and we purchased three bags of Hinerwadel's Salt Potatoes. We just cooked our first bag and they were delicious. We didn't have to add a thing to them. We wish they could be marketed here in New Jersey.

Posted by: Jo Bradford at July 17, 2005 5:45 PM

We just spent a week in DeRuyter, NY, where our friend Gordie Hull made salt potatoes for dinner. (He used a package from the store, so it must have been Hinerwadel's.) So delicious! Then, a couple days later, we went to the NY State Fair in Syracuse and had salt potatoes again.
Gordie has lived in central New York all his life and didn't think the potatoes were anything special. But what a great find for a couple of Texans who wander around looking for regional foods! Thanks for the blog and comments that told us the whole story.
Sharon Gee, Willis, Texas

Posted by: Sharon Gee at September 3, 2005 9:08 AM

....great info about the salt potatoes. I find that others don't really understand this little tradition of eating salt potatoes at the fair, at friday fish fries,clam bakes, etc. In my mind i invision them served in those little paper boat plates, dripping with a bath of butter , and that funny little wooden fork plucked into onto one potatoe. Oh yeah and you need to pop them in your mouth pipping hot so steam billows out.
For years i've lived in san francisco, where no ,you can;t get a a good salt potatoe, and it is a family tradition to order anyone who visits from camillus to pick up a bag of salt potatoes, just as i need to bring a loaf of sourdough bread when i go east.
i have also believed that the potatoes that you need, and the reason we have them in syracuse , are the seed potatoes, the tiny ones that would never (at least in the past) make it to market.

anyway..thanks for the chatter.

Posted by: sheila at September 4, 2005 3:59 PM

SInce I love nearly every type and preparation of the honorable potato, these were an instant winning treat for me. I happen to love salt as well, and that doesn't hurt.

My mouth waters just thinking about them...

Posted by: James at September 4, 2005 6:07 PM

Me too.

Posted by: Julie at September 4, 2005 6:47 PM

I just got back from a visit to Delphi Falls/Syracuse. It's been a tradition for me to pick up a few bags so salt potatos when I visit.
I went to a store called Wegman's and got their brand. I cooked some just last night. They were a little too salty, but very good!

Posted by: Tina at September 8, 2005 11:53 AM

I recently spent a week in Upstate New York and had salt potatoes for the first time. When my friend first mentioned them, I had no idea what he was talking about. He couldn't believe I had never eaten these wonderful spuds before. I've got to tell you......I have never had better potatoes in my life! The first time we had them at the lake where we were staying. The second time, I had them at a wonderful restaurant. They served a small dish of butter on the side.......YUM! I immediately asked our grocery store produce manager if he could get them here. He had no clue what I was talking about!! You lucky Upstate New Yorkers take these magical tasty orbs for granted! I WANT THEM HERE, TOO! LOL

Posted by: Sandy at September 13, 2005 9:31 PM

I haven't been lucky enough to have the native variety. I've just been trying to make 'em on my own.

Give the recipe in Alton Brown's book a try. Maybe they'll be as good as the ones you had in New York!

Worth a shot.

Posted by: James at September 13, 2005 9:57 PM

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