Syracuse, New York was once a major salt production center and is still known regionally as the "Salt City." It has a main drag named Salina Street and a Salt Museum on the shores of Onondaga Lake. It was there where, until 1920, brine from the salty lake marshes were converted into "white gold."
Among culinarians the City can also claim another honor as the home of Syracuse Salt Potatoes, one of the best ways to cook potatoes to serve with shellfish.
This unique recipe was created during 1800’s when hard working Irish immigrants made their lunch by putting potatoes into wire baskets and lowered them into the kettles of boiling salt brine.
This method perfectly matched with shellfish who also ‘bath’ in salt water daily. Like mussels, clams and oysters, the resulting potato interior is rich, savory and totally unforgettable.
To this day the locals love their Salt Potatoes, and they are on menus of restaurants from Albany to Buffalo. They are still so popular that grocery stores sell Salt Potato kits - bags of red potatoes with the right amount of salt enclosed (water, of course, not included).
Syracuse Salt Potatoes
- 8 cups water
- 1 ¼ cups non-iodized salt
- 3 lbs small red or yellow potates, NOT Peeled, with unbroken skin
- 8 tbsp butter (1 stick), melted
- 2 tbsp fresh chives, minced
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Bring water to a full boil.
- Add salt.
- Stir until salt is completely dissolved.
- Add potatoes.
- Do NOT pick the or break the potato skins during cooking.
- Cook for 25-30 minutes or until potato skins ‘wrinkle’.
- Remove potatoes and drain on wire rack until salty crust forms.
- Microwave the butter with chives and pepper until butter melts.
- Transfer potatoes, whole or peeled, to serving plate and top with herbed butter mixture.
- Note: Also outstanding in clam chowder or with steamed mussels or oysters.