I give you the humble salt potato, Syracuse’s gift to the world. Unlike the rest of Upstate cuisine, there are no great secrets about the salt potato to protect. This post reveals all.
Unlike some other Upstate foods, you don’t need a special sauce or marinade to make salt potatoes. Nor do you need a special plate or blueprint for assembly. Just some melted butter. The butter can come from anywhere.
You don’t need special salt. Just… a lot of salt. The salt can also come from anywhere. It used to come from Syracuse, but we don’t mine salt here any more. So, feel free to use your own salt. It won’t make your salt potatoes any less delicious or any less authentic.
You can use any potato, as long as it’s a small one, and as long as it’s a white potato. Hinerwadel’s is a popular brand, but they didn’t invent them. The salt potato was invented by the working man slaving in the salt mines, not some restaurant owner who was running out of ideas. A few years ago, someone was selling counterfeit Hinerwadel’s in stolen bags. Aside from the parties involved, nobody cared. There was little public outrage. It was a non-story (save for the spectacle of Germans and Italians fighting for control over a delicacy that was probably originated by Irishmen).
So, use any small potato you like — as long as it’s not red. Red salt potatoes are an abomination before God. I have heard rumors of their use. If you are in some other part of the country, like North Carolina for instance, and you are serving red salt potatoes, you need to come back to the Old Country for a little bit and get your mind right.
But you don’t even have to go to Hinerwadel’s clambake in North Syracuse in order to get a “real” salt potato. You know, we don’t have anyone making a crapload of tourist business off these things. No one claiming to be the inventor, no one claiming to be the One and Only. No Nick Tahou’s here. And we don’t have a salt potato festival, or salt potato contests. Just boil them and eat them. Throw your own party. That’s where you’ll find them.