Not too long ago, we were watching an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm that featured the history of the Cobb salad at the heart of its storyline. And that got us thinking about the awesome Cobb salad at one of our local restaurants, Pearly Bakers. And then … we had to have one.
Of course, what we made might not even qualify as a Cobb salad, because we took some liberties with the ingredients list. Wikipedia says a traditional Cobb salad includes iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, chicken breast, hard-boiled eggs, avocado and Roquefort cheese.
Well, for starters, I loathe iceberg lettuce. It’s just totally worthless in terms of taste and nutrition, so we switched it out for some spring mix in the bag. And the avocados at the grocery store looked terrible, so we doctored up some store-bought guacamole by adding fresh lime juice and giving it a good stir. Also, Roquefort cheese? We used the leftover bleu cheese from some recent buffalo chicken cheese steaks (yeah — we went there — without you). But it was mighty tasty!
And that’s kind of the beauty of the Cobb salad — it was designed to use up all the odds and ends in your refrigerator — so have fun deciding what kind of cheesy, bacony meals to make that will give you some tempting leftovers!
Now then … the salads:
Most of your time will be spent slicing and dicing various vegetables. If you don’t have them on hand, you’ll want to start by cooking two hard-boiled eggs. To do this, just place two eggs in a sauce pan, cover with water and heat over high heat until they start to boil. Once the water is rolling, cover the pan and turn off the heat. Let stand for half an hour — your eggs should be perfect.
The only other things we have to cook now are the chicken and the bacon!
For the chicken, we decided that grilling was by far the best way to get the most flavor out of two boneless, skinless chicken breasts. But it was still 30 degrees outside, so we broiled the breasts instead. To season, we sprinkled a generous amount of salt and pepper on each piece and let them broil a few inches from the heat source for 6 to 8 minutes per side. Remember to let the chicken rest a few minutes before slicing into it — you don’t want to lose all the juicy goodness!
For the bacon, we took the super easy way out and just microwaved it according to package directions. It is possible to get crisp bacon this way — just make sure to cover the bacon slices with paper towels to soak up the grease and cook until crispy — we added about 30 seconds on to the recommended cooking time and that seemed to do the trick. Be careful not to burn your bacon! What could be worse!?!? Working in 30-second increments beyond the recommended cooking time should ensure crisp, not burnt, bacon.
Now then, it’s time to assemble the salad. Aside from choosing fresh, tasty ingredients, this is the most important part of the recipe. Some people arrange their salad in strips, some layer all the ingredients, some just throw them on a plate in an appetizing fashion. We kind of let every ingredient have its own segment so you can pick and choose your next bite.
First, of course, put down your lettuce. Then slice your chicken on a diagonal and add that. We put the bacon to the left of the chicken, then added some sliced up grape tomatoes next to that and finished off the outer circle with the sliced hard-boiled eggs. In the middle of the salad, we put a scoop of the guacamole and a few crumbles of blue cheese.
Now, while there does exist a recipe for Cobb salad dressing, we find that the guacamole does a pretty good job of adding flavor and keeps the other ingredients from being too dry. But our favorite Cobb salad at Pearly’s also comes with one other secret ingredient — balsamic vinegar soaked eggs. We recreated it by drizzling some vinegar over our salads.