The Hero of Canton: Cobb Salad

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Old School Cool

You know at this point I wouldn’t blame you, faithful readers, if you were grousing to yourselves “Self, I don’t know why LX didn’t just name this blog Cooking with Dutch Ovens”. It’s true, I’m kinda a fanatic for braises (not as much as sandwiches, but it’s close), but there’s no more living in denial – summer has come to Texas. It’s 95 and humid and it’s time for a recipe that does not require hours on a hot stove. This is also one of Colin’s favorite meals ever, so it’s not exactly a huge compromise.

cobb salad
Shiny. Let’s make salads.

So, Cobb Salads. I love named salads. Actually, I love named dishes. There’s something delightful about seeing “Cobb Salad” or “Steak Diane” as opposed to a list of ingredients and preparation techniques (eg; massaged kale salad with mango, red onion, and sesame). But you can’t get history behind a dish unless you name it.

Like a Marvel character, there are many origin stories for the Cobb Salad. However there is one that is generally considered canon by fans. The Hollywood Brown Derby was legend in its heyday for being the place where the movie industry movers and shakers would rub elbows. In the 1930s, owner Robert Cobb had a long day and wasn’t able to grab a bite until nearly midnight. Throwing a chicken breast on the grill he assembled a salad from the bits and bobs left from the day’s prep work. After adding the chicken he had invented the eponymous Cobb Salad. The Cobb Salad went on to become the best known dish at the Hollywood Brown Derby. And beyond.

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Cooking with Murloc

There is an official set of ingredients to the Cobb salad, and this isn’t it. But that’s the nice thing about cooking for yourself isn’t it? The ingredients you want in the proportions you want. In this instance, I use a creamy bleu cheese dressing instead of Roquefort crumbles in the salad and a vinaigrette on top.

You may be tempted to skip the homemade dressing. You may already be reaching for a bottle of ranch dressing. Don’t do it! This dressing is so easy to make and the bitter funk of the bleu cheese is exactly what’s needed to balance out the flavors. If you’re thinking ahead of time, make the dressing the day before you intend to serve the salad. But if you leap up from the screen after reading this shouting “I must make this salad now!” you’re still in good shape. Just whip up the dressing before you start anything else to give the flavors time to marry.

Too many words! Cooking time!

Cobb Salad

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My new favorite food pic

Procs: Enough for 4 Rangers, but two Murlocs can mow through it in an evening

Time: About 30 minutes (depending on how you cook the bacon)

Difficulty: So simple

Hardware Requirements:

  • Sharp knife
  • Hands or salad tongs

Mats:

Creamy Bleu Cheese Dressing

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  • 4 oz. of a tasty bleu cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tbsp chives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt

Cobb Salad

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces
  • Enough cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, greens and whites, sliced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • Your favorite assorted salad greens (romaine, butter, and arugula for me), torn into bite-sized bits
  • Fresh ground pepper

Walkthrough

Miniboss: Creamy Bleu Cheese Dressing

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  1. Combine the first five ingredients for bleu cheese dressing in a bowl. Stir to combine. Season to taste with lemon juice and salt.
  2. Cover and chill. 30 minutes is adequate. A few hours is better. Overnight is perfect.
  3. Keeps for about 3 days

Cobb Salad Two Ways

Traditional:

  1. Lay out torn salad leaves on a serving platter. Arrange the remaining ingredients in attractive lines.
  2. Bring the serving tray tableside. Allow guests to coo over the pretty colors. Pour a moderate amount of dressing (you can always add more) over the top and toss together with tongs. Top with fresh pepper before serving.

Made in the Kitchen:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add a moderate amount of dressing and toss with your hands. (Hands are the best tools for tossing since you can be more gentle and not squish the avocado or obliterate the egg yolks.)
  2. Put in serving bowls. Top with fresh pepper.

ProTip

Ok, I can’t totally get away from braising. Braising is the best way to make perfect bacon. It’s not the fastest way, it’s not the easiest way. But it does guarantee that you will get bacon that has properly rendered fat and is crisp without being burnt-crunchy.

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About a quarter inch of water

Put the bacon in a straight-edged skillet and add juuuuuust enough water to come to the top of the bacon. (It’s okay if there’s a bit more.) Place on medium-high heat.

 

The water will come to a boil. This will render fat out of the bacon without burning the meat. Once the water has boiled away the bacon will be frying in it’s fat. Turn the heat to medium low until it reaches the desired state of doneness.

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Guess who’s graduated to a DSLR in the kitchen . . . .

 

 

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