This salad was actually invented in Los Angeles by Brown Derby owner Robert H. Cobb. One evening at the restaurant, he wandered into the kitchen to prepare a late night snack. He combed the refrigerator for whatever ingredients he could find, and this now famous lunchtime staple was born.
Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish
You’ll need a large platter or shallow wide pasta bowl to accommodate this substantial salad. Avocado discolors quickly, so prepare it at the last possible minute, just before assembling the salad. Though watercress is traditional in cobb salad, feel free to substitute an equal amount of arugula, chicory, curly endive, or a mixture thereof. Use more blue cheese if your taste dictates.
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 medium garlic clove, pressed through garlic press or minced to paste (about 1 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large eggs
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat
Salt and ground black pepper
1 large head romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
1 bunch watercress (about 4 ounces), washed, dried, and stemmed (about 4 cups)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, preferably grape tomatoes (about 10 ounces), each tomato halved
2 medium avocados (about 8 ounces each), pitted and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 slices bacon (about 8 ounces), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces, fried in medium skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 7 minutes, and drained on paper towel–lined plate
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1. for the vinaigrette: Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients in medium bowl until well combined (alternatively, shake vigorously in tight-lidded jar); set aside. (Dressing may be refrigerated in airtight container for 1 day; bring to room temperature and shake well before using.)
2. for the eggs: Place eggs in medium saucepan, cover with 1 inch water, and bring to boil over high heat. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fill medium bowl with 1 to 2 quarts ice water. Transfer cooked eggs to ice water with slotted spoon; let stand 5 minutes, then peel, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, and set aside.
3. for the chicken: Meanwhile, season chicken with salt and pepper. Adjust oven rack to 6 inches from broiler element; heat broiler. Spray broiler-pan top with vegetable cooking spray; place chicken breasts on top and broil chicken until lightly browned, 4 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken over and continue to broil until thickest part is no longer pink when cut into and -registers about 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut chicken into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.
4. to finish the salad: Toss romaine and watercress with 5 tablespoons vinaigrette in large bowl until coated; arrange on very large, flat serving platter. Place chicken in now-empty bowl, add 1/4 cup vinaigrette and toss to coat; arrange in row along one edge of greens. Place tomatoes in now-empty bowl, add 1 tablespoon vinaigrette and toss gently to combine; arrange on opposite edge of greens. Arrange reserved eggs and avocados in separate rows near center of greens and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Sprinkle bacon, cheese, and chives evenly over salad and serve immediately.
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