September 27, 2015: Tri-color “Salt” Potatoes

September 27, 2015

Tri-Color Salt PotatoesOne is never sure what will work. Sometimes, what can seem at first mundane, is virtually unheard of to the world at large.

Back in December of 2010, I was stuck for a topic/food/recipe for the blog, and I got a brainstorm: I had never seen a recipe for “Salt Potatoes” in any of the sundry food blogs and magazines I subscribed to. At the time I thought that was because I couldn’t imagine anyone documenting such a common dish.

How wrong I was.

Growing up, salt potatoes were at least a weekly dish. We kids didn’t mind. Salt potatoes are tasty, go well with many meals, and with eight kids to feed…cheap and plentiful! Having an Irish woman as a mom probably added to the frequency with which she added them to the weekly menu.

Writing the original article, what I didn’t consider was how common this dish is to my locale and why. You see, I hail from Syracuse NY, which in an earlier American history was where much of our salt came from. The natural deposits of primeval salt in the local lakes made salt production easy and cheap. One main street of Syracuse is named “Salina Street” due to the impact the industry had for residents.

So, with cheap salt supplies and Irish workers digging the nearby Erie Canal, salt potatoes were pretty common. They are still often sold at open markets and fairs, often replacing french fries as the potato treat of choice.

So, I was pretty surprised when my (to my mind..a very, very basic) recipe was picked up by a national food blog! The recipe was “featured” as best recipe of the day and yielded my best day for the blog, with a total of 125 hits!

My sister Mary Lou, happened to call that day and I was excited to tell her the news. When, knowing my range as a chef, she asked what recipe was featured, and I told her…there was long pause. “WHY?” she asked! Turns out what a native Syracusan considers commonplace was not so for the rest of the world!

Salt Potatoes are indeed so basic, it is hard to improve them, but recently I picked up these tri-color baby potatoes in a local farm stand and these upped the ante! As well as color, each potato had its own individual taste, and I was surprised to find the inner part tinged with a slight color of the outside. The one that appears black, is actually a dark purple like a beet, so the inner potato had light purple color!

A good chef is always looking to improve on even the most basic recipe! Adding this one to my repertoire of cheap, easy, aesthetic, fun, and unusual dishes!



  1. Hi Steve, two of my best friens hail from Syracuse..and they , too, covet their salted potatoes. We bough a huge bag a few years ago…..i was expecting a really salty taste to them, but they tasted like regular yellow( new) potatoes. We cooked them as we would any other potato…baking, boiling, with and without skin…

    Don’t know what we did incorrectly. After the first try, i boiled them and added extra salt….did nothing…we had to add more salt once we served them.

    Guide me, olde experienced one!

    The bag we purchased them said Salt Potatoes.

    I just made a pot ( robert calls it a caldron ) of ” Silky Zucchini Soup”

    To 6 zucchini, I only used 2 cups of veg.broth…no plain water.

    I used an immerser…that way i could make it smooth right in the pot..still hot. The orig. recipe called for food prosessing it in batches…too time consuming..my immerser was terrific…could use it right away , rather than letting it cool and putting it little by little in the food prosesser.

    If you google Silky Zuchini Soup , you will see the recipe from food and wine .com there is a picture of it with thin strips of zucchini on top of the featured bowl.

    We must talk beef one day…soon. My Beef Bourguignonne has not come out well….the meat is not ” fork tender” . As it used to be.

    I need advice..

    Take care, kiddo.

    Your email foodie

  2. Hi Kathy,

    Yes, the Syracuse area grocery stores always sold these pre-packaged bags of baby potatoes with a large packet of salt included. I used to see these all the time at cookouts and clambakes growing up.

    It’s not clear if *your* bag came with a bag of salt (they used to.) If not, the baby potatoes are *boiled* with a fair amount of salt (i.e. the tri-color ones pictured above made 2X what you see in the photo. I boiled them in enough water to cover the potatoes..about 1Qt. with 3/4C. Celtic Sea Salt.) Cook so a fork will easily pierce the largest potato. Overcooking will burst the skins of the potatoes. If you add too much salt the excess will just settle to the bottom of the pan. The skins of the potatoes (once drained) will have an even layer of crystallized salt. I served the tri-color ones above with butter, freshly grated pepper, and chopped fresh tarragon.

    As to your Beef Bourguignon: perhaps you are cooking the dish too quickly? Slow & steady with BB is the way. A crock-pot is ideal, but you can do this on the stove as well.

    In a large pot, I add cubed beef (1″) to oil and sear, turning every once and while. Add some red wine and a bit of water and reduce heat to simmer. To this I add cubed carrots, potatoes, etc. and spices. Cover and simmer at low heat (stirring every once and while) for as long as the largest veggie can be easily pierced with a fork. While cooking, add a little bit of water, if needed to make sure everything stays moist.

    Hope this all helps…good luck!


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