WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 28: Vegan Braised Collard Greens with Miso and Smoked Paprika for Thanksgiving photographed for Voraciously in Washington, DC on October 28, 2021 (Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post via Getty Images; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Food - Drink
Potlikker Is A Simple Soul Food Dish With A Deep History
In the American south, the broth left over after cooking up a "mess of greens" — a Southern term for a pot of greens like turnip, collard greens, and kale — is known as potlikker, or pot liquor. This nutritious broth has been imbibed by generations of families as a tonic steeped in Black history, and stems from age-old African traditions.
Dipping a starch, such as Ethiopian injera or Nigerian fufu, into a vegetable and meat-based sauce has long been a tradition of the African continent, and potlikker counts as well. When American slave cooks finished preparing greens for their slave owners, they would save the liquid to use for themselves and their families.
Potlikker is known as the mother sauce of soul food, and for decades, it's been used as a base or for dipping, dunking, and, with some foods such as cornbread, crumbling. It's traditionally cooked with ham hock or pork stomach, since these "off" cuts were afforded to enslaved peoples, in addition to the greens and other seasonings.