La Cobb

Cobb salad, French style

This salad differs from the American original in several respects. It uses blue cheese instead of Roquefort, and a French mustard vinaigrette rather than the sweeter American-style dressing. It also allows for variation in the tender leaves and herbs, and is presented differently, with the ingredients piled on top of the greens instead of being aligned in rows.

It’s fine to buy a rotisserie chicken for this recipe — although if you happen to have a homemade roast chicken breast in your fridge, this would be a great way to use it. For the cheese, I’d suggest a good French bleu if you can find it; if not any blue cheese will be fine.

For the tender greens, anything goes, from the classic mix of curly endive, watercress and romaine (omitting the iceberg) to my preferred mix of baby spinach leaves, arugula, lamb’s lettuce and baby beet greens. For the record, I’ve never seen iceberg lettuce in a Cobb salad over here. If you want a pale green leaf, you could substitute Boston lettuce.

For the vinaigrette, you will need French Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, salad oil and a clove of garlic. The recipe is here.

The quantites below will serve two people. If you love bacon, add more, and if your salads are for hearty eaters, use two chicken breasts and/or more eggs.

2 eggs
1 ripe avocado
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 roast chicken breast, deboned
1 medium-large tomato or 2 medium-small tomatoes
3 ounces (85 g) blue cheese
1 spring onion
4 tbsp. mustard vinaigrette
salt and freshly ground black pepper

two handfuls tender greens
6 strips bacon
a couple sprigs fresh herbs, for example cilantro, dill, basil or chives

Boil the eggs: immerse them in a pot of cold water, bring to a boil, cook for exactly five minutes, tip out the hot water, fill the pan with cold running water, tip out and refill with more cold water. Allow the eggs to cool in the water for a few minutes.

While the eggs are cooking and cooling:

Peel the avocado. For easy peeling, cut the avocado in half and use a soup spoon to scoop out the edible flesh. Cube coarsely. Place in a bowl and stir in the lemon juice. Set aside.

Remove the skin from the chicken breast. Chop the chicken into cubes. Set aside.

Rinse and cube the tomatoes. Set aside.

Crumble the blue cheese. Set aside.

Mince the onion, including some of the green. Set aside.

Make the vinaigrette. Click here for the recipe.

Peel the eggs and chop coarsely. Set aside.

You are now ready to begin assembling your salad. Everything is ready but the bacon, which you will cook at the very last minute.

Place the greens on individual plates. Pile the ingredients on top: first the chicken, then the tomatoes, eggs and avocado. Sprinkle with salt and grind on a little black pepper. Now add the blue cheese and onion.

Cook the bacon: cut the strips in half crosswise, heat a little oil in a skillet, when it sizzles add the bacon, cook on both sides until done. Drain briefly on paper towels.

While the bacon is still hot, scatter it over the salads. Spoon a couple teaspoons of mustard vinaigrette over each plate. Snip on your herbs of choice.

Serve with crusty bread and a bottle of red or chilled rosé. Serves two.

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