Hi Greyghost, the pre-salted potatoes you describe are definitely not "salt potatoes," as eaten in Central and Northern New York state. (They sound interesting though -- I'm curious what they were all about. Doesn't seem like you'd have to 'salt' potatoes to preserve them, does it?)
I grew up about 60 miles north of Syracuse in the 1980s, and then as now, salt potatoes are an omnipresent summer side dish, particularly at outdoor picnics and get-togethers. I remember often seeing big vats of the things boiling on top of a gas grill, right beside the hamburgers and hot dogs.(And often trying to eat them on styrafoam plates with plastic forks -- not the most handy.) I took them for granted and didn't realize they were a regional item until I moved away. Incidentally, my family's not Irish, nor do we have any Syracuse roots. I thi
Adjudicator, saying salt potatoes are are just potatoes and butter is like saying french fries are just potatoes and frying oil. First off, the salt is really important. You boil the taters in super-salty water. This changes the texture of the skins, which come out kind of perforated and slightly brittle. The flavor of the potato flesh is already good, since they're small, 'new' potatoes, but somehow the salt-cooking enhances it. I'm not sure how else to explain the essence of salt-potato-ness. Can anybody else help?
My mom and aunts always served parsley butter -- a little pitcher of melted butter with mounds of chopped parsley drowning in it -- at the table with salt potatoes. There's no more perfect summer meal in that region than home-battered and -fried Lake Ontario perch side-by-side salt potatoes smashed on the plate and covered in parsley butter.