SMASHED EGG SALAD
Very fresh eggs, from your own chickens or from the farmers’ market, are much harder to peel than eggs that have aged for 10 days or so, which allows the inner membrane to shrink a bit, which in turn makes them easier to peel. It can be challenging to make deviled eggs or egg salad using a standard egg slicer with such fresh eggs, and so I use a sturdy pastry cutter whenever I have a bounty of fresh eggs.
Chermoula is a Moroccan condiment, similar to Argentine chimichurri and Italian-style salsa verde, but spicier. It is used on grilled meats, tagines and couscous, and as a marinade for fish and vegetables. It is versatile, easy to make and irresistibly delicious.
SMASHED EGG SALAD
Place the eggs in a saucepan, then cover with water by at least 1 inch and set over medium-high heat. When the water boils, cover the pan and remove from the heat. Let rest from 7 to about 17 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs; the smallest ones need barely 7 minutes and the jumbos may need 17 or even 18 if they are cold when you begin.
Transfer the eggs to an ice water bath, lightly crack the shells on a hard surface and let sit in the cold water until cool.
While the eggs cook, make the Chermoula.
Pat the eggs dry with a tea towel. Crack each open and use a spoon to scoop the egg out of its shell; if the eggs are very fresh, some of the white will likely stick to the shell; use the spoon to extract it.
Put the peeled eggs into a bowl, smash them with a large dinner fork or pastry cutter, add the mayonnaise and mustard and mix. The egg salad should be chunky but uniform.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, divide the egg salad among individual plates and top each portion with a generous dollop of Chermoula. Add crackers or bread alongside, and enjoy right away.
The egg salad may also be served atop spring greens with a little salt and olive oil, or made into a sandwich on lightly toasted sturdy hearth bread. Don’t forget the Chermoula either way!
Place the garlic into a surbachi or other large mortar, add several generous pinches of salt, and use a wooden pestle to grind the garlic into a smooth paste. Add the paprikas, cumin, chipotle powder or piment d’Espelette and lemon juice and mix well. Add the cilantro and parsley and grind a bit to incorporate the leaves without reducing them to a pulp. Season with several turns of black pepper.
Add the olive oil, mix well, and taste. If the Chermoula seems a bit flat, add a few pinches of salt. If it is too tart, add a pinch or 2 of salt and a bit more olive oil. Taste again and correct again for balance if necessary.
Use right away or store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.