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Weekend Recipe: Cobb Salad

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 Cobb Salad
America's Test Kitchen

When it comes to salads with name recognition, Cobb salad, like this one from from America's Test Kitchen, is high on the list.

It originated in Hollywood in 1926 at the Brown Derby, a local restaurant where the stars of the day were known to dine. Its fame continues, and it is still replicated on restaurant menus all over the country. Versions abound, but all too often this salad arrives in a gigantic bowl with an array of the classic ingredients hastily tossed over greens. If a salad has chicken, bacon and blue cheese, it seems to earn the moniker Cobb salad regardless of what else might be in it.

A well-made Cobb salad makes a satisfying dinner or the centerpiece of a summer buffet, but it requires a little time and much attention to detail. To make the most of each component and create a beautifully presented salad, our recipe is crafted to be layered onto a platter, with each component carefully dressed. The vinaigrette itself is unusual and lively, as it contains Dijon, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce — ingredients that were the hallmark of the original version. When the components are tossed with this piquant dressing, they take on its flavor for a salad that is more than the sum of its parts.

While you cannot assemble this salad in advance, you can cook the chicken and hard-cook the eggs well in advance and refrigerate them.

Cobb Salad
Yields 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce (14 ounces)
  • 4 ounces (4 cups) watercress
  • 10 ounces grape tomato
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 avocados
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 2 ounces blue cheese
  • 1 bunch fresh chives

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring 1 inch water to rolling boil in medium saucepan over high heat.

2. Place 6 large eggs in steamer basket. (Be sure to use large eggs that have no cracks and are cold from the refrigerator) 

3. Transfer steamer basket to saucepan. (If you don’t have a steamer basket, use a spoon or tongs to gently place the eggs in the water. It does not matter if the eggs are above the water or partially submerged)

4. Cover saucepan, lower heat to medium-low and cook eggs for 13 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, mince 1 garlic clove and juice 1 lemon to yield 2 teaspoons. Set aside.

6. When eggs are almost finished cooking, place 2 cups ice cubes and 2 cups cold water in medium bowl.

7. Using tongs or spoon, transfer eggs to ice bath; let sit for 15 minutes.

8. Remove and peel eggs, cut into 1/2–inch pieces, and set aside.

9. Cut 10 ounces grape tomatoes in half and set aside. 

10. Crumble 2 ounces blue cheese and set aside.

11. Cut 8 slices bacon and 1/4-inch pieces.

12. Cook bacon in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, line dinner plate with paper towels.

13. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate to drain.

14. In medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire.

15. Whisk in reserved garlic clove, reserved 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon sugar and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

16. Trim 3 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Season with salt and pepper.

17. Adjust oven rack to 6 inches from broiler element; heat broiler.

18. Spray broiler pan top with vegetable oil spray; place chicken breasts on top and broil until browned, 4 to 8 minutes.

19. Flip chicken over using tongs and continue to broil until thickest part registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes.

20. When cool enough to handle, cut chicken into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.

21. Tear 1 large head romaine lettuce (14 ounces) and 4 cups watercress into bite-size pieces. Transfer large bowl and toss with 5 tablespoons vinaigrette.

22. Arrange romaine mixture on serving platter, then place chicken in now-empty bowl. Add 1/4 cup vinaigrette and toss to coat.

23. Arrange chicken in a row along one edge of greens.

24. Place halved grape tomatoes in now-empty bowl, add 1 tablespoon vinaigrette and toss to coat. Arrange on opposite edge of greens.

25. Halve and pit 2 avocados and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

26. Mince fresh chives to yield 3 tablespoons.

27. Arrange chopped eggs and avocado in separate rows near center of greens and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.

28. Sprinkle bacon, blue cheese and chives evenly over salad and serve immediately.

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