Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb Salad

Cobb salad is hands down my favorite salad. It was invented in 1937 at The Hollywood Brown Derby by its owner Bob Cobb and theater magnate Sid Grauman to satisfy a late-night urge for a snack. Although there are slight variations of this salad, some using chicken versus turkey, or presenting the greens differently, the Hollywood Brown Derby way is to finely chop all the ingredients, likely making this the original chopped salad.

The Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb Salad is available at The Hollywood Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. I've eaten there, and have thoroughly enjoyed the salad! It really is a classic.

I actually have two versions of the recipe. One which was included in the Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs cookbook, and another that was offered on a recipe card at The Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant at Disney's Hollywood Studios. They are nearly identical except for the quantities and selection of greens. The book version calls for 1 cup each of chopped iceberg lettuce, chicory, and watercress. The recipe card calls for 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, 1/2 bunch watercress, 1 small bunch chicory, and 1/2 head romaine lettuce.

I used my judgement and took the liberty of making some adjustments to the quantities based on my experience. I definitely feel that 1 cup of each is not enough for the large quantity of toppings. Meanwhile, 2 half-heads of lettuce, a bunch of chicory and 1/2 a bunch of watercress seems like way too much.

The quantity I used felt like a good balance between greens and toppings, and it was the perfect amount for the 2/3 cup dressing. The original recipe also calls for 1 pound of turkey, which is a lot! I used 1/2 a pound, and think any more would overwhelm the other ingredients My adjustments are below.

Although it's not specified in the recipe, I'd aim to chop everything into about 1/4-inch pieces, from the greens to the toppings. And although some shortcuts are fine, like purchasing a slab of roasted turkey from the deli counter to chop instead of poaching your own turkey breast, definitely avoid others. You'll want to peel and seed your tomatoes otherwise you will have watery tomatoes, and trust me having the skins off makes a huge difference in elevating this salad.

The dressing is classified as "French dressing," but really it's a simple vinaigrette. Maybe that's why they call it French. It's nothing like the gloppy orange-hued French dressing sold in bottles. This salad is much classier. After all, it was eaten by Hollywood's finest for decades, and is still enjoyed today.

The Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb Salad
Serves 4 to 6
(Adapted from Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs)

3 cups chopped iceberg lettuce (about 1/2 a head or slightly less)
2 cups chopped chicory (also called curly endive)
3/4 cup chopped watercress
8 ounces poached turkey breast, finely chopped (or use a slab of store-bought roasted turkey from the deli counter; you can also try making the salad with roast chicken breast)
2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
6 strips bacon, cooked crisp, drained, and crumbled
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

The Hollywood Brown Derby Old-Fashioned French Dressing:
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon minced or crushed garlic
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard (mustard powder)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons olive oil

Toss the iceberg lettuce, chicory, and watercress together and arrange in a large salad bowl. In straight and separate lines, arrange the turkey, tomatoes, avocado, blue cheese, bacon, and eggs on top of the greens. Sprinkle the chives in a diagonal line across the salad.

To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the water, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic, sugar, pepper, and dry mustard until combined. Whisking constantly, add the vegetable oil and the olive oil in a slow steady stream until the dressing is emulsified. Store covered and chilled until ready to serve. Whisk the dressing to blend just before serving. Makes 2/3 cup dressing.

Present the salad at the table, toss with the dressing and serve.


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