Potlikker, the soupy leavings at the bottom of a pot of greens or beans, is now vogue. Perfect Little Bites, a personal chef service in Frederick, Maryland, stirs gin and vermouth with frozen potlikker cubes to chill martinis and infuse the drinks with briny vegetal funk. The restaurant Lower 48, in Denver, fries eggs and tucks them in a bowl of collard green and maitake mushroom potlikker. Travis Grimes at Husk in Charleston serves pork shoulder with crispy belly, smoky butterbeans, rice, and broccoli, swaddled in potlikker broth. When I ate at the Nashville location of that restaurant, the pork came in chops and Morgan McGlone used rapini instead of broccoli, but the potlikker remained. At their recent summer fest, Southern Soul Barbecue in St. Simons Island, Georgia, served green peanuts boiled in collard green potlikker. Upstate at Five and Ten in Athens, Hugh Acheson occasionally poaches mountain trout in boiled peanut potlikker. Inevitably, Acheson calls the broth nutlikker.
If Appalachian cuisine could speak, I think it’d sound like my grandmother: loving but no-nonsense, pleased but bemused by your enthusiasm over the meal she’s just made from little more than dried beans and a tin of flour.