When Vanessa and I were working in Bodega de Pepe in Biescas, Aragón, we made ajoarriero every day. It’s a blend of garlic, salt cod and potatoes made into a rich, rustic wet dish, which is served cold. We’d send it to the bartenders in a big terracotta cazuela and they would spoon it over freshly toasted crusty bread and serve it with a glass of garnacha (grenache) from Somontano.
The name ajoarriero literally means ‘carrier’s garlic‘, but is more widely known as ‘mule driver’s garlic’, and is also the name of this recipe. It derives from a time when the wealth of Spain was transported across the mountains and valleys on the backs of donkeys. Wool, olives, cheese and clothing were moved from maker to buyer on mules, lead by equally obstinate mule drivers. At the end of a long day, while the animals fed on pasture, their masters would cook a meal made from garlic, salt cod and potatoes, thickened with a few locally garnered eggs.
At MoVida we stuff this mix into piquillo peppers and deep-fry them, but you can serve this as tapas on a thin slice of toasted sourdough bread.