Cobb Salad Recipe with Ranch Dressing
You guys, I truly do not know why, but I’ve been totally obsessed with Cobb salad for like a year now. It’s kind of a funny thing to be obsessed with in 2018, right? Not modern, not trendy…I don’t know. This composed salad, now an American classic, was invented at The Brown Derby restaurant in California during Hollywood’s Golden Age. I don’t normally have much of a connection with any of those things, but for the past few weeks I’ve been practicing a couple of songs from old movies for an upcoming event — so I’m gonna embrace this whole situation as thematically appropriate and just roll with it I think.
None of that really matters, because Cobb salad is friggin delicious, happy-making food. Main dish salads are the best. All that good stuff right there in a big, wide bowl with nothing in the way, AND a sauce. Show me a really good, really big salad and I’ll show you what it means to be a professional enthusiast. (I want that sweater, BTW, but think of how many Cobb salads you can eat for that price.)
Don't overthink the dressing here. Ranch from a bottle just works. Let's roll with it, and go save the world with our extra energy, shall we?
How to Make a Great Cobb Salad
- Start with mild, crunchy lettuce.
- Use really good bacon — thick-cut, uncured applewood smoked bacon is our favorite.
- The more colorful your tomatoes, the better.
- Use Haas avocados — they’re creamy and buttery and perfect.
- Make our perfect hard-boiled eggs.
- Cook the chicken in a little of the rendered bacon fat for extra flavor and convenience. You’ll get a nice brown crust on the outside and then cook covered until just opaque in the center.
- Ranch dressing from a bottle just works here — don’t overthink it.
- 10 cups chopped or torn lettuce (see note)
- 2 cups small tomatoes, such as cherry or grape
- 4 hard-boiled eggs
- 2 ripe Haas avocados
- 8 strips good, thick-cut bacon
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, 1 to 1 1/2 pounds total weight
- 3 ounces good blue cheese (such as Gorgonzola dolce), crumbled
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- Your favorite ranch dressing
- Place lettuce in a wide serving bowl (or plate salads individually in wide bowls like these or these). Halve or quarter tomatoes depending on size and place in a strip across serving bowl. Quarter the hard-boiled eggs lengthwise and arrange next to tomatoes.
- Halve, pit, and slice avocados but leave slices in shells until ready to serve.
- Chop bacon into bite-sized pieces and place in a 10-inch nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned and crisp. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain and pour off all but two tablespoons or so of the bacon fat from the pan.
- Season chicken breasts well with salt and pepper and place in pan. Reduce heat to medium. Cook uncovered until nicely browned on the underside, about five minutes. Then flip, pour in about two tablespoons of water, and cover pan. Continue cooking until chicken breasts are just opaque all the way through.
- Arrange bacon, avocado slices and blue cheese on salad. Dice chicken and place onto salad.
- Sprinkle some fine sea salt over both the eggs and the avocado, and then hit the whole salad with some freshly ground black pepper and flaky sea salt. Drizzle with dressing and serve with more dressing to pass at the table.
Any crisp, mild lettuce or combination that you like is great. In the photos I've used "Blooming Brooklyn Iceberg" from Gotham Greens, a which has a great ratio of crunch to leafiness. For the tomatoes, the more colorful the merrier. I like to mix a few different types of bite-sized tomatoes.