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.
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