Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Classical Lettuce Play - Part 6

Cobb Out

Cobb Salad Ingredients

When I first start researching Cobb Salad, I took one look at the qualifying ingredients and thought:

"Too much stuff! This'll never work!"

And then I tried it and fell in love.

It's got everything one would want in a salad: loads of protein, crunchy veggies, and creamy elements, all tied together with a classic tangy dressing.

In order to be a considered a Cobb Salad, it must have Chicken, Bacon, Blue Cheese, Avocado, some kind of Salad Green or Greens, and Tomatoes. The cook can add any other ingredients and it will still qualify as a Cobb Salad. The dressing, near as I can tell, is up to the cook, though a red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing  seems to be traditional.

Although most salads can be served as either appetizer, meal, or side dish, depending on the quantity, I find Cobb Salad is best served as a meal given how complete it is.

I thought about doing two versions of this salad but after looking at several recipes to get a feel for the common ingredients, I realised that this is one of those salads that really doesn't need much tweaking, so I opted to keep my version as simple as possible.

Serves 4 people.

Here's How You Do It


1 Head of Iceberg Lettuce - Rinsed and cut into bite size pieces. Iceberg lettuce gets a bum rap as being bland and not particularly nutritious. It's actually crunchy, refreshing, low in cholesterol, and a great source of Iron, Fiber, and Vitamins A and C, just to name a few. Kids love it, too.

1 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast - these are pricey, but one is big enough to serve four people if you slice it right, due to all the other ingredients in this salad. Be sure to remove the tough white tendon sticking out of that long strip of flesh (the tender) at the back of the breast. You can either cook the chicken breast whole, or if you want to save cooking time, CAREFULLY slice the breast by placing your hand on the flat of the chicken breast and slicing along the thickness. See the drawing below. You should get at least 2 slices from 1 chicken breast. Another option would be to simply cut the breast into cubes  or strips and cook it. However you slice it, BE CAREFUL HANDLING CHICKEN AS THE RAW MEAT CARRIES THE RISK OF SALMONELLA POISONING. To avoid this, wash everything that came in contact with the raw chicken with a solution of about 2 cups of water mixed with a tablespoon of bleach, and then with regular dish soap and water. Be sure to wash your hands too.

1 Avocado - sliced, and coated with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Avocados are a tricky vegetable as they're often sold under ripe, forcing the buyer to leave them on their kitchen counter for a few days until they're ripe enough for use. Once peeled, they also turn brown very quickly, going from bright green to something that looks like the contents of a baby's diaper. The way to check if your avocado is ripe is to give it a little squeeze with your thumb and finger tips. If the flesh has some give to it, it's probably ready to eat.  You peel the avocado by cutting it lengthwise in the middle, making the slit deep enough that it reaches the pit, and going all around the length with your knife. Grab one half of the avocado and twist. The other half should pop right off. To get the pit out, CAREFULLY whack the center of the pit with your knife, twist your wrist and the pit should come away with the knife. If you're afraid of doing this  - and I don't blame you - you can always scoop the pit out with a spoon. Once all that's done, make slits in the flesh of the avocado length wise and press the skin inward with your thumbs or scoop it out with a spoon. Once the flesh is free of the skin, squeeze some lemon juice (you could also use lime juice) over it to keep it from turning brown.  

3 Slices of Bacon

2 Eggs

16 Cherry Tomatoes - rinsed

At least 4 Tablespoons of Blue Cheese - crumbled or chopped into little pieces. I like my blue cheese, so I tend to use a little more, despite the fact that a little goes a long way.

3 Teaspoons of Lemon Juice - divided - 2 teaspoons are for your avocado, the other is for your dressing

2 Tablespoons of Vinegar - Red Wine Vinegar is ideal, but you could use white or apple cider vinegar

4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1 Heaping Teaspoon of Dijon Mustard

1 Clove of Garlic - peeled and smushed with either the flat of your knife or with the base of your palm - the latter move also happens to be used in martial arts

Salt and Pepper


1 Knife

1 Cutting Board

1 Jar with tight fitting lid or Clean Water Bottle - for mixing your salad dressing

Measuring Spoons

1 Frying Pan or baking sheet

1 Small Pot

Paper towels

Plates or Salad Bowls

Pour the vinegar, mustard, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, garlic, and the olive oil into your jar or bottle, seal it, and shake to combine. Taste it, and then season it with salt and pepper to your taste.

Put the eggs in a pot, add enough water to cover, and hard boil them. See Lowered Eggspectations Part 1. Peel the eggs and slice them thin. Set aside.

While the eggs are boiling, fry the bacon in the frying pan, turning once, until reddish brown and crispy around the edges, and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. You could also bake the bacon on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 F for about 5 or 10 minutes per side, just remember that this method doesn't make it as crispy as pan frying.

Season the chicken breast with a little salt and pepper and cook it in the bacon fat until the juices run clear and the chicken is no longer pink inside. Feel free to pull the thickest piece out of the pan, and cut it in half to check. The cook time will vary depending on how you sliced the chicken beforehand, if at all.

Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes or so and then thinly slice it into bite size pieces .

You can now assemble your salad by arranging or layering the bacon, chicken, eggs, tomatoes (say 4 per serving), lettuce, blue cheese, and avocado on plates or in a bowl. I arranged the ingredients separately, which allowed my taster and I to take the ingredients we wanted in the order we wanted and/or liked them.

If the dressing has separated, shake it up to combine and drizzle - meaning lightly pour a very fine stream  - over your salad or serve the dressing on the side.

You are now ready to serve!

Sick of salads?

Have no fear!

Next time I'll be doing soups!

So stick around!

- Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

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