Greetings from Nashville! We’re having a great time and love the food and the whiskey down here. Today’s post comes from Sally at Oven Struck, who’s sharing a recipe from her neck of the woods.
Hello from Las Vegas, NV! My name is Sally and I develop and write recipes to share with all of you over at Oven Struck. I’d like to thank Lexi for having me as a guest contributor over here at Lexi Bites!
I was born in Southern California and have lived in Las Vegas since I was 8 years old. However, once you live in California, it never leaves you. I go back as often as I can to visit the beach I grew up on.
Today I’m going to share with you a true American classic that hails from my home state: the Cobb Salad! Originating at The Brown Derby in Hollywood, California. There are two stories that surround the origin of this dish however the most popular version goes like this:
One night in 1937, the owner of The Brown Derby, Bob Cobb, was very hungry. Rummaging through the kitchen, Bob opened the large refrigerator and began to grab random items to put together for his snack. Lettuce, romaine, watercress, chicory, boiled chicken breast, cheese, eggs, avocado and some crisp bacon that he nabbed from a busy chef. He began chopping and mixing things together, topped it off with old fashion french dressing and voila! The Cobb Salad was born.
The salad became an overnight hit with Derby customers and was added to the menu. To this day, The Cobb Salad is still served. The other story involves the chef of The Brown Derby inventing the salad and Bob Cobb making up the story for marketing purposes. Either way, this Cobb Salad is the perfect blend of everything you would want in a salad let alone a meal. Tangy, crispy, salty, with hints of bitter and downright delicious. The dressing changed to a vinaigrette from the original, as french dressing was slowly going out of style.
A few notes about some of the ingredients.
Chicory: In 1937, Belgian Endive was referred to as Chicory. If you were to walk into Whole Foods and ask the produce man where their Chicory is, as I did about 7 years ago, they might tell you they didn’t know what that was. Food history shows us that it is in fact Belgian Endive. Sounds a little more appetizing, right? Right. Belgian Endive is sold at most mega marts across the United States and should be easy to find.
Roquefort Cheese: The original cheese of the Cobb Salad. Roquefort is a member of the blue cheese family syndicate but, it is not replaced by generically named “Blue Cheese”. Most cheese that bear the label “blue cheese” is injected with the mold penicillin to produce the blue veins. Roquefort hails from the South of France and is made in a similar way, however the penicillin is cultivated from loaves of leavened bread in the caves where the cheese is produced. Roquefort is also made from sheep’s milk and not only sheep, but two specific types of sheep. Knowing this, if you have difficulty locating Roquefort cheese, your next best option that is comparative in taste is Gorgonzola or Stilton, in my humble opinion.
Salad Oil: The dressing calls for ¾ of a cup of salad oil. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen anything labeled as such in the grocery store. A little food history and it is said that when a recipe calls for salad oil, “any edible vegetable oil that is normally used in salads” was the one the cook looked for. Due to the addition of ¼ cup of Olive Oil I would guess that the majority of the dressing was either sunflower or peanut oil. This part of the dressing really comes down to preference of your palate. I personally will use ¾ cups of extra virgin olive oil and ¼ cup of pure olive oil.
I make a rather large platter of Cobb Salad for a weeknight meal which ends up leaving me with plenty left over to lunch on throughout the week. The large platter approach is great for parties, potlucks and serving a family meal. For a more elegant approach to the Cobb Salad you can build on personal plates and serve as a main course. Either way this salad is always a hit!
Should you choose to prepare the Cobb Salad as individual plates, the tomato is traditionally prepared peeled and placed at the center of the plate, atop the salad. To peel the tomato, core out the stem and mark with an X across the stem end with a sharp knife. Drop the tomato into boiling water for 5 seconds then immediately into an ice bath to halt the cooking process. This will allow you to remove the peel with ease. You can also do this on a platter Cobb Salad as well however, the seeds tend to become a bit messy. If preparing a platter I will generally just dice the tomatoes to keep them in tact.
I hope this has inspired you to create a true American classic for your friends and family. Next time you’re in a restaurant and see the Cobb Salad on the menu, may you share the story and incite festive dinner conversation!
Tip: Want to get a head start on this salad? You can prepare the chicken, bacon and eggs a day ahead of time and assemble everything the day of your party or meal!
The original recipe from The Brown Derby Cookbook which can be found in the Brown Derby Cookbook.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get cooking!
- The Salad
- ½ head of iceberg lettuce
- ½ head romaine lettuce
- 1 bunch of watercress
- 1 small belgian endive (chicory)
- 2 medium sized chicken breast - boiled
- 2 medium tomatoes - diced
- 6 slices crispy bacon
- 3 hard boiled eggs - (or more to your liking)
- 1 ripe avocado - sliced
- 2 tbs. chives - chopped
- ½ cup roquefort cheese
- The Dressing
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp sugar
- 1 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tsp. salt
- ¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ tsp. dry English mustard
- 1 small clove garlic - finely minced
- ¼ cup full flavored olive oil
- ¾ cup salad oil - EVOO, sunflower, peanut, etc.
- While preparing the salad chill your platter and/or plates which you will serve on. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- On a baking sheet lined with foil, lay your bacon pieces in strips. Place in a 400 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes or until done to your liking.
- In a medium saute pan, over medium high heat, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add chicken breast to pan along with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to your liking. Boil for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast.
- In a medium size sauce pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Carefully drop in your eggs and let boil for 4 minutes, remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove to cool.
- Remove cheese from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.
- While your bacon, chicken and eggs are cooking prepare your greens. Slice each head of lettuce along with the watercress and endive into ¼ inch slices. Mix together in a large bowl.
- Prepare your dressing: place the water, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, english mustard and garlic into a food processor or blender. Blend until combined. Once all the ingredients have combined, whisk in the oil. Use 1 cup of dressing and mix with your greens - set aside.
- Remove bacon from oven and drain on a cooling rack or paper towel. Once bacon has cooled, dice bacon - set aside.
- Remove chicken from saute pan and cool on a cutting board or cooling rack. Once chicken has cooled, slice into ¼ “ pieces - set aside.
- Peel eggs and place in the refrigerator until cool. Once cool, slice your eggs into rounds or wedges - set aside.
- Crumble your cheese until you have approximately ½ cup.
- Wash and dry your tomatoes. Remove the stem and dice - set aside.
- Chop chives until you have approximately 2 tsp - set aside.
- Peel, core and slice your avocado. If preparing in advance, slice your avocado just prior to serving to prevent browning. If you are concerned about browning, you can squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top and cover tightly in a dish.
- To assemble: Remove your platter from the chill chest and place your dressed greens on the bottom. Make two rows down the center of the platter with the chicken breast. Line the outside of both sides of the chicken with the tomato, followed by the bacon, and roquefort cheese. Place avocados on top of the cheese. Place sliced eggs down the center of the chicken. Sprinkle the chives over the whole dish. Serve and enjoy!