Cobb salad is the quintessential American salad, first pulled together on a whim by Robert Cobb of the former Los Angeles landmark Brown Derby restaurant when he needed to feed Sid Grauman late one night (1937). It was such a hit, movie stars started requesting “Cobb’s salad”, and soon its popularity spread.
The original Brown Derby restaurant on Wilshire Blvd. was eventually torn down in the 80s, like so many downtown LA landmarks—Perinos, the Ambassador Hotel—leaving a swath of strip malls in their place.
I fondly remember the Brown Derby.It was in the shape of huge brown hat (you couldn’t miss it) and within a few blocks of where we lived when I was a kid. Ah well, big brown hat gone, but thank goodness the salad remains, a legacy of the Golden Era of Hollywood.
- 1/2 head of romaine
- 1/2 head of Boston lettuce
- 1 small bunch of frisée (curly endive)
- 1/2 bunch of watercress, coarse stems discarded
All lettuces should be rinsed, spun or patted dry, and coarsely chopped
- 6 slices of bacon
- 2 ripe avocados, seed removed, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 whole skinless boneless chicken breast (about 3/4 pound total), halved, cooked, and diced (see How to Poach Chicken)
- 1 tomato, seeded and chopped fine
- 2 hard-boiled large eggs, separated, the yolk finely chopped and the white finely chopped (see How to Make Hard Boiled Eggs)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar
- Salt and pepper
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely grated Roquefort
1 Cook the bacon in a skillet on medium heat until crisp on both sides. Remove from skillet and lay out on paper towels to absorb the excess fat. Allow the bacon to cool. Crumble the bacon and set aside.
2 Toss the various lettuces: In a large salad bowl, toss together well the various lettuces and watercress.
3 Compose the salad: Arrange the chicken, the bacon, the tomato, and the avocado decoratively over the greens and garnish the salad with the chopped egg and the chives.
4 Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, the mustard, and salt and pepper to taste, add the oil in a slow stream, whisking, and whisk the dressing until it is emulsified.
Stir in the Roquefort. Add sugar to taste, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Whisk the dressing. Serve separately or toss in with the salad.