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The Brown Derby's Cobb Salad Recipe

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Photos by Ryan Kellman
Photos by Ryan Kellman

The Brown Derby was one of early Hollywood's legendary hotspots, but unlike the other restaurants to which the bold and the beautiful flocked, this one actually served excellent food. We got our hands on the original Cobb salad recipe (one of the owners, a one-time husband of Gloria Swanson, was named Cobb, so they have a legitimate claim to this recipe), and we really enjoyed the dressing choice here. Ranch was eschewed in favor of the lighter, more flavorful French dressing.


For more about the restaurant itself, read Hadley Meares' article here. And then get to cooking!

For this salad, cooking the chicken in any way is fine. We poached it with aromatics like pepper and garlic and leeks. Where plain poached chicken can be quite depressing, this version proved excellent.

This salad is traditionally served at table before being dressed and tossed, with each ingredient arranged in a separate area atop the greens. But do whatever you like -- or whatever your mom would appreciate more on Mother's Day ... along with this Brown Derby grapefruit cake. (And be sure to check out more of Ryan Kellman's photos below.)


Cobb Salad
1/2 head of your favorite salad green
1/2 bunch watercress
1 small bunch chicory
1/2 head Romaine
2 peeled, if possible, tomatoes, medium
2 breasts poached chicken
6 strips of bacon, very crispy
1 avocado
3 hard boiled eggs
2 cups chopped chives
1 cup dressing (see recipe below)
1/2 cup grated or crumbled Roquefort or other blue cheese

Old Fashioned French Dressing
1 cup water
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
juice of half a lemon


2 1/2 tsps salt
1 tbs ground black pepper
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard
1 clove of garlic, chopped (or more, to taste)
3/4 cups olive oil
2 cups salad oil, or any neutral oil

Finely cut or tear the greens and arrange in salad bowl.

Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the seeds, dice finely, and arrange in a strip across the salad.

Dice the chicken and arrange over the chopped greens.

Chop bacon finely and place on the salad.

Cut avocado in small pieces and arrange around the edge of the salad, then sprinkle on the chopped eggs, chopped chives, and cheese. Just before service, mix the salad thoroughly with the dressing.


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