Cobb Salad

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.

Cobb Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

cobb-salad-3.jpg

  • 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
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped fine
  • 2 hard-boiled large eggs, separated, the yolk finely chopped and the white finely chopped
  • 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

Method

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 In a large salad bowl, toss together well the various lettuces and watercress.

cobb-salad-4.jpg3 Compose the salad. Arrange the chicken, the bacon, the tomato, and the avocado decoratively over the greens and garnish the salad with the grated egg and the chives.

4 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.

cobb-salad-a-500.jpg

15 Comments

  1. Ole Aioli

    Three cheers for you and one of the great salads!

    Your recipe source?

    From my “The Brown Derby Cookbook”:

    p. 34,

    COBB SALAD
    SERVES 4-6

    ½ head of lettuce
    ½ bunch watercress
    1 small bunch chicory
    ½ head romaine
    2 medium-sized tomatoes, peeled
    2 breasts of boiled roasting chicken
    6 strips crisp bacon
    1 avocado
    3 hard-cooked eggs
    2 tbs. chopped chives
    ½ cup fine grated imported Roquefort cheese
    1 cup Brown Derby Old-fashion French Dressing

    … Dice breasts of chicken and arrange over top of chopped greens. Chop bacon finely and sprinkle over the top the chopped eggs, chopped chives, and grated cheese. Just before serving mix the salad thoroughly with French Dressing.

    p.94,

    BROWN DERBY OLD-FASHION FRENCH DRESSING, 1 1/2 qts.

    1 cup water
    1 cup red wine vinegar
    1 tsp. sugar
    Juice of ½ lemon
    2 ½ tbs. salt
    1 tbs. ground black pepper
    1 tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
    1 tsp. English mustard
    1 bead garlic, chopped
    1 cup olive oil
    3 cups salad oil

  2. Rita

    This is my favorite salad. I like it with crumbled bleu cheese and bleu cheese dressing. Maybe not the authentic recipe, but awesome!! I like ordering Cobb salad in a restaurant. It’s interesting to see the variations different restaurants have on the salad. They have to have good avocadoes though!! I don’t know why, but salads always taste better to me when someone else makes them.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Rita Scott
    Vancouver, WA

  3. AB

    Cobb salads are a delicious meal. I have seen them served in rows often but not always. At one fine restaurant, the salad was actually presented in rows (similar to the photo), then the waiter “tossed” it before placing the dish, and all of the ingredients were very finely diced. It was one of the most delisious Cobb salads I’ve had. These may be a little more effort – but worth it. ;)

  4. Violette

    It has to be arranged in segments to be a Cobb Salad…but yes it looks really yummy and pretty.

  5. Lisa Morgan

    Oh, Elise, thanks for bringing back memories of The Brown Derby. I, too, grew up in Los Angeles and remember going there a couple of times when I was a child (and driving past it often). What a wonderful building it was, in that hat shape as you noted! I can still (almost) see it. The last time I visited the place, I was celebrating my 16th birthday. A couple of friends and I went in for dessert and tried to order creme-de-menthe ice-cream sundaes. Our clever ploy to innocently get something alcoholic into our systems failed, and we settled for hot fudge ones as I recall.

  6. Helen

    Wow–awesome recipe. Classic Cobb–I like it because the salad dressing doesn’t drown out the flavor of the other ingredients. I took the leftovers in a wrap for my lunch today and it was still quite yummy.

  7. David L.

    Elise:

    I love you.

    And I don’t love you!

    I love Cobb Salad. I mean, I really love it (well, not that way…). But it’s one of my favorites and I never, ever made one at home. Ok, the bad part. I don’t love you because you reminded me that I’ve never made one at home (*sigh*, I guess I don’t really hate you…but I’d like you better if you came to visit and made me one…I’ll make dessert, I promise!)

    Love…sort of, David

  8. Liz

    I made this for Sunday lunch and it was scrumptious! It definitely pleased the normally salad-averse hubby with its three types of protein (though it took a bit longer than anticipated to cook, given that I had to boil the eggs AND saute the chicken AND fry the bacon). I’ll be making this one again…

  9. Paul N.

    You make a beautiful salad. I make one, too, occasionally. No two ever have the identical ingredients. Usually whatever is in the refrigerator. I always add diced red bell pepper and diced cukes. Chopped peanuts or almonds (salted) create an interesting and tasty twist. Try that sometime. Not too many. We have company coming this weekend. Guess what they’re getting for dinner?

    Yours recipe is a good one. Nice photo, too.

  10. Judith Comstock

    Thanks so much for finding and sharing this recipe. I used to live down the street also and would go with my Great Aunt there for lunch. She would always order the Cobb Salad. I remember it came in rows and the waiter tossed it at the table. They never asked my Aunt what she wanted as this was the only choice for her.

  11. Ken

    Fantastic!!

    I poached the chicken or a little water, olive oil, butter, white wine, onion, bay leave, carrot, salt and pepper, slow cooked.

    It was the best ever! =)

  12. Penny

    I decided to kick off the arrival of spring with this wonderful salad. I skipped the “composing” part and mixed everything in a big bowl to devour!

  13. val

    i made this salad with cubed slab bacon instead of crumbles and it was aaamazing. love the plating in the picture too! really awesome. cobb salads are just the best.

  14. Jonathan Badeen

    Thanks for the post. When I first moved to LA a couple years ago I thought I’d try to go to the Brown Derby only to find that it was gone. However for those who must really get their fix the Brown Derby lives on in Disney World (Orlando, FL) at the MGM Studios portion of the park.

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