Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hinerwadel Salt Tatties



Chalk up Salt Potatoes as another indigenous Upstate New York (specifically, Central New York) food that, in my younger days, I thought every American enjoyed in the early summer. It never dawned on me that these were peculiar to the region. Read the above linked Wiki article for the history of salt potatoes.

Usually around early May you will start seeing the white Hinerwadel brand bags of Salt Potatoes at the grocery stores.



In the bag you get a bunch of young, white potatoes and a giant sachet of salt.



The directions are simple, dump the salt pack into about 4 quarts of water, bring to a boil, throw in the potatoes and let it go for twenty or twenty-five minutes. A hallmark of the salt potato cooking process are the white streaks you will get down the side of your pot from the bubbling salt water.



You are probably thinking, "Potatoes? and salt? This is considered some sort of special dish?" I can't explain it, and maybe there is some sort of chemistry involved, but these particular potatoes cooked in the saturated salt water somehow come out different than other boiled tatties. Throw some melted butter on top of the tatties and you have a dish worthy of a king.



The firm skins kind of snap between your teeth, yielding to the salty and tender insides. Salt potatoes are great with any sort of grilled meat, and do a more than middlin' job at soaking up 8 or 9 afternoon cookout beers. Try them, I have seen the Hinerwadel bad boys at P-Chops so far.

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16 comments:

  1. I've never understood the lamenting about the lack of salt potatoes on various local blogs. I've repeatedly let people know that I've been buying them in Price Chopper for years and years and that they are very simple to do.

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  2. This reminds me of papas arrugadas:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canarian_wrinkly_potatoes

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  3. I grew up in Western New York, and I also never realized that these were a regional thing. I just assumed that everyone ate these in the summer.

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  4. So theoretically I can just make them with potatoes and a crapton of salt in my water? Or is there something special about the bagged combo?

    Yeah, I grew up in Orange County and I'd never heard of them until I started reading your blog. Still, I'm a salt fiend, so sign me right up.

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  5. AJ, I believe that although you can use the potatoes you already may have on hand, the actual potato in the bag may be a different variety and produce better results, plus they are harvested at a very small size so you get the skin snap with the creamy soft goodness of the insides. I actually cut back a bit on the salt, use about 2/3 of the bag.

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  6. Love Love Love Salt Potatoes...they think I'm crazy here in VA and don't understand the obsession to make this a staple dish at the first site of summer

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  7. Albany Jane, buy the bag combo - for some reason this works best. You can do amazing things with the leftovers you will have.

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  8. "leftovers"? What are those?

    I also didn't realize these were regional. When I moved to Michigan I spent a whole day going from store to store looking for them to bring to a bbq....

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  9. I love the crusty salt residue this leaves behind on everything. I'd be afraid that they'd cause the stove to rust-through if I made them too often.

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  10. I just bought a bag of Hinerwadel salt potatoes at the local P-Chops, thanks to seeing this post. But I kind of have doubts about the special regionality of them - I grew up eating them every summer in New England. At the shore, we would use red or white new potatoes and boil them in seawater with a handful of seaweed at the bottom of the pot.

    Albany Jane - I think the trick is to use thin-skinned new potatoes instead of the standard ordinary "keeper" potatoes, and put so much salt in the water you can't stand to sip it.

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  11. They may not be Central NY region exclusively, but I don't think they are known south of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. I first experienced them about 5 years ago and really need to try harder to work them into the potato rotation because they are easy and delicious.

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  12. I like to finish them by returning to the cook pot after draining, and gently shake them around a bit to dry them off and enhance the salty coating. And NEVER put the butter on the bunch, but rather dip each bite in melted butter or fork one whole and swipe over a pat (or stick) and eat it off the fork.

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  13. I just stumbled across this by accident.

    I'm about 3,200 feet above sea level. Because of the lesser boiling temperature, this can cause problems. I think that boiling around here is 206 F.

    I wonder how much salt raises the boiling temperature. Even with that much salt, it might not raise the temperature back up to boiling at your elevation. I guess if I want to try it, I'll have to use a heavy lid to try to increase the pressure to raise the temperature.

    Any suggestions?

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    Replies
    1. Try doing it in a Dutch oven. The heavy cast iron cover will help.

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  14. make your own butter with finely chopped jalapenos or other chile pepper and they are even better!

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