This dish pays homage to the classic picnic staple, but it stands out among all the other variations out there. The soft-boiled eggs are enrobed in a creamy, cold, mayonnaise-based sauce that’s similar in style to the one that accompanies the Italian dish vitello tonnato, cold sliced veal cloaked in a rich tuna sauce. The crispy chicken skin garnish gives the dish a crunchy textural element that contrasts with the sauce and egg. You could make the eggs without this garnish, but I encourage you to try it at least once. There are a million tricks out there for how to make peeling eggs easier. The only one I can attest to is to use older eggs; farm eggs are often too fresh and their shells haven’t had time to cure, making peeling very difficult, so buy them well in advance of when you plan to make this dish. A little baking soda in the water helps, too.

Tonnato-Style Deviled Eggs with Lemon Aioli and Crispy Chicken Skin

Excerpted from Homegrown by Matt Jennings

  • Yields: Serves 6 as a snack



  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Trim the meat and excess fat from the chicken skin and cut the skin into 3-inch pieces. Lay the skin on the prepared baking sheet, flesh-side down. Season with salt and black pepper, then top with another sheet of parchment and a second baking sheet (this prevents the skin from curling when it’s baked). Bake until browned and crisp, about 1 hour. Remove the top baking sheet and parchment and let cool for 10 minutes.

  3. In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts water to a rapid simmer and add the baking soda. Fill a large bowl with ice and water; set it nearby. Gently lower the eggs into the boiling water with a slotted spoon. Set a timer for exactly 5 minutes and 15 seconds for soft-boiled eggs; the white will be set but the yolks will be runny. Remove the eggs from the boiling water and transfer to the ice water bath. Let the eggs stand in the ice water bath for 20 minutes, then remove and carefully peel.

  4. While the eggs chill, in a small bowl, whisk together the aioli, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, the mustard, and the garlic. Season with additional lemon juice, salt, and white pepper. Fold in the chives. The sauce should be thin enough to cloak the eggs; if necessary, add water to thin it to the proper consistency.

  5. To serve, slice the eggs in half lengthwise, taking care that the yolk does not squirt out. Place the egg halves onto a platter yolk-side down and spoon the sauce over the top, enrobing each egg half completely. Garnish with crispy chicken skin and capers, as well as a pinch of Maras pepper. Serve immediately.

Note: Maras pepper is a deep red, dried Turkish chile pepper with a fruity flavor and lingering heat (can be found at Formaggio Kitchen).

Basic Aioli

  • Yields: Makes about 1 cup



  1. Set a medium mixing bowl on a kitchen towel (this will prevent the bowl from moving as you whisk). Whisk together the egg yolk, garlic, and salt. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the oil, drop by drop at first, until the mixture begins to thicken, then in a slow, steady stream until all the oil has been incorporated and the mixture is very thick. Whisk in the warm water to thin the aioli, then season to taste with additional salt, the lemon juice, and pepper. Serve right away or transfer to a lidded jar and refrigerate; the aioli will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Excerpted from Homegrown by Matt Jennings (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Hugh Galdones.

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