Pot Likker

Pot likker is the spruce-green broth retrieved from the pot in which greens have been boiled. The greens – mustard, collard, turnip, dandelion – cook for hours, leeching vegetable goodness into the water and giving it a tonic punch like no other soup. It is customary for the greens to share the pot with a hambone or hunk of fatback, the pork adding a mighty measure of fatty animal savor to the vegetable leaves and to the liquid. But pork is not necessary — some cooks make it with smoked chicken; some abjure meat altogether. At Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta, where the greens are cooked the traditional way, with plenty of pork, the oinky chord rings loud thanks to accompanying cornbread muffins laced with cracklin’s, the crunchy bits of fried fat and skin that greet your teeth with a crunch or a chew, then melt in your mouth.

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