Did you ever think that potatoes absorbed salt when they were boiling? I did. I also believed that if I over-salted a soup or a stew, I could toss a potato in and it would absorb some of the salt, making the soup less salty. I’ve never tried it, but I always believed it would work like a charm.
My friend Jay has been telling me about salt potatoes for years. His wife Christine is from Rochester and he has eaten many a salt potato, as they’re very popular in Central/upstate NY.
I tried salt potatoes for the first time this summer. I was very skeptical about them. I assumed they would be terribly salty, given the fact that the potatoes are boiled with a cup and a half of Kosher salt! I was pleasantly surprised though, and found that they’re actually really creamy and not salty at all. They’re the most creamy potato I’ve ever eaten. Apparently, while boiling, the salt forms a crust on the potato skin, so the salt isn’t absorbed into the flesh of the potato. In addition, the salt in the water allows it to boil at a higher temperature, which completely cooks the starch inside the potato, resulting in a very creamy spud!
Salt potatoes are best made with fresh, young potatoes. The potatoes I used were about the size of two walnuts side-by-side. In the photo, it doesn’t look like there’s any salt on the potatoes, but there’s actually a very thin coating of salt on them. Not too much to make them salty, though. Just enough for some delicious flavor.
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New York Salt Potatoes
Recipe from the New York Times
8 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of kosher salt (add another cup if using the Diamond Crystal brand)
3 pounds well-scrubbed small red or white potatoes, as uniform in size as possible and with skins on
1 stick butter, cut into pieces
Bring salt and water to a boil and add potatoes. Cook until tender, about 25 minutes.
Drain potatoes in a strainer and place pot back on stove over medium heat and add butter. When just melted, after about a minute, add potatoes and, if desired, black pepper. Toss and serve immediately.
Yield: Six servings