- Nov 26, 2016
- central NC
(Sights, Sounds, and Tastes of the American South)
Potlikker is the liquid left behind after boiling collards and it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals. Don’t make the mistake of calling it a broth. It’s really more like a soup - one that develops as collards simmer.
And yes, it is spelled potlikker, not pot liquor. This humble food is what enslaved and indentured cooks — who stirred pots from which they were not permitted to eat — had left over at the end of the day. Potlikker kept people going. There are supposedly stories of motherless babies with potlikker in their bottles and of grandmothers and country doctors prescribing it as an ointment for various aches and pains.
Two things are essential to make a delicious pot of greens and potlikker. The greens must be “sturdy” and the cooking liquid must be rich and smoky. Greens can be spiced up a bit with pepper pods, crushed red pepper flakes, ground cayenne, hot pepper vinegar or a combination of them all. A little (or even a lot of) sugar, cane syrup or sorghum can replace the spices if you prefer a sweeter taste. Let your taste buds be your guide.
People who love greens often love potlikker even more. Potlikker is best served with cornbread. It’s up to you if you crumble the cornbread or dunk it. But, for goodness sakes don’t pour this good stuff down the drain!