One of our favorite parks at Walt Disney World is Disney’s Hollywood Studios (or MGM if you still can’t get over the name change ;). And the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant is one of the main reasons we LOVE this park.
You walk in and it feels like old Hollywood! It’s fun to see all the sketches of famous celebrities lining the walls.
Stars like Lucille Ball, Bette Davis, Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, and hundreds of other actors of an era gone by have dined at the original restaurant in Hollywood and made it the place to be in that town.
The sketches lining the walls are one of the things that made the original Hollywood Brown Derby famous worldwide!
But it’s not a trip to the Hollywood Brown Derby without trying the Cobb Salad! As the story goes, owner Robert Cobb was raiding the fridge at the restaurant late one night seeking to put together a midnight snack for theater magnate Sid Grauman (you know, the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater).
He chopped up a little bit of this lettuce and that lettuce. Then he took leftovers of bacon, egg, avocado, blue cheese, turkey, and whatever he could find in the kitchen. He chopped it all up, mixed up his own dressing, and threw it all into a bowl. Cobb’s salad became an overnight sensation when Sid came in the next day to order it again!
I was so excited to find the original Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb Salad recipe in the Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs Cookbook! Let’s make it!
*See below for the A Few Lessons I Learned section for more about these ingredients.
-1 cup chopped iceberg lettuce leaves, washed and spun dry
-1 cup chopped chicory leaves, washed and spun dry*
-1 cup tender sprigs of watercress, washed and spun dry
-1 pound poached turkey breast, finely chopped*
-2 medium-sized, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
-1 avocado, peeled, seeded and finely chopped -½ cup crumbled blue cheese (about 2 ½ ounces)
-6 strips bacon, cooked crisp, drained, and crumbled*
-3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped
-2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
-1/2 cup bleu cheese, crumbled
-½ cup The Hollywood Brown Derby Old Fashioned French Dressing (not the orange French dressing we are used to, more like a vinaigrette). See Recipe below.
-Chicory and watercress sprigs for garnish!
Yield: 4-6 Servings
Salad Dressing Ingredients
-2 tablespoons of water
-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
-1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
-½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
-½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
-½ teaspoon minced garlic (one clove)
-¼ teaspoon of sugar
-1/8 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
-1/8 teaspoon dry English mustard
-1/3 cup vegetable oil
-2 tablespoons olive oil
Yield: About ½ Cup
Step 1-Bacon and Hard Boiled Eggs:
-Definitely start by getting your bacon and hard boiled eggs finished. Skip to the bottom of this post to the A Few Lessons I Learned section to find a quick and easy way of making bacon in the oven. You have a lot more important stuff to do than stand over a frying pan of bacon all day! I also cheated and used my egg cooker to hard boil my eggs. I am a kitchen gadget fanatic! What can I say?!?
Step 2- The Hollywood Brown Derby Old-Fashioned French Dressing:
-Next you want to work on your dressing! In a small bowl, combine water, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic, sugar, pepper, and dry mustard. You are adding ALL of the dressing ingredients except vegetable oil and olive oil. Whisk together until well blended.
-Whisking constantly, add the vegetable oil and olive oil in a steady stream until the dressing is emulsified.
In case you were wondering what this fancy word emulsify means, I looked it up :). It means a mixture of two or more liquids that are normally immiscible (nonmixable or unblendable). There you go, dinner and a new fancy word to throw out at your next dinner party!
-Store covered and chilled until ready to serve. Whisk the dressing to blend just before serving.
Step 3- The Salad:
The art and beauty of this salad is that all the ingredients are all very finely chopped! So, get to chopping!
-Finely chop the iceberg lettuce, chicory, and watercress.
-Toss the finely chopped iceberg lettuce, chicory and watercress together and arrange in a large salad bowl.
-Chop all ingredients (turkey, avocado, tomatoes, blue cheese, bacon, and eggs). What I learned is that it is better to keep all of these items in separate bowls until you are ready to serve the salad. That way you don’t have tomato juices running through the lettuce and other items making everything soggy.
-When ready to serve, arrange all ingredients in straight and separate lines across the top of the greens.
-Sprinkle the snipped chives in two diagonal lines across the top of the salad (I found it easier just to make one line).
-Present your work of art to the table.
-At the table when you are ready to serve, pour in all of your dressing and toss the entire salad.
-Serve on plates with sprigs of watercress and chicory to dress up your presentation! (Helpful Tip: Do not eat the lettuce garnish by itself. Chicory is very bitter. It is a perfect flavor to mix in with all the ingredients, but not so fun to take a huge bite by itself!
That’s it! Now you get to enjoy this original meal with a fun history at your dinner table!
Here’s a fun family night idea: get everyone in the family to dress up like Hollywood celebrities (boas, big jewelry and giant sunglasses are a must :D) and roll out the red carpet for a fun, family evening. This is a great meal to pair with a fun movie night with your family, too!
Give the kids some paper and crayons and let them sketch the celebrities in your family to hang up to make your house look and feel more like the world famous Hollywood Brown Derby!
Enjoy your star studded night!!!
A Few Lessons I Learned
As with all recipes, you usually find helpful ways to make it easier to make them. This section is filled with helpful hints that I learned while making this recipe and doing research on some of the ingredients. I hope they help you, too!
-Chicory Leaves — Don’t be scared off by this ingredient. I did some research and you can find it pretty cheap in your local gourmet markets. Sometimes it’s called Radicchio and sometimes it’s called curly endive, which is different from the endive family. While either will work, I suggest the curly endive, which is what they use at the restaurant. It was only about $1.99 for a whole entire head of chicory. Remember, it’s very bitter on its own, so don’t plan to eat it plain.
-I found watercress in a bag at our gourmet market.
-Dry English Mustard and Ground Mustard are the SAME thing! Don’t pay $5 or more for a can that says Dry Mustard when you can buy a generic brand of ground mustard for $1 or $2.
-Don’t take the time to poach a turkey breast! Go to your local market and buy your favorite rotisserie turkey breast or deli meat. Don’t let them slice it, just ask for a pound all in one chunk! It makes it easier to chop.
-Cook the bacon in the oven while you work on everything else. Set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Just lay out your bacon slices on a metal or stone baking sheet with edges (to keep all the grease contained). Place in oven and cook for 30-40 minutes. Just keep watching until it crisps. This way you can go about getting the rest of your salad ready instead of watching bacon cook! This is also a great tip while making breakfast for the family any other day!
-Do you have a garlic press? Use it to press the garlic into your dressing instead of trying to hand mince it. It makes life so much easier
-I really only needed half an avocado and ½ the turkey that this recipe called for. With all the ingredients you buy, you really have enough to make a second BIG bowl of salad another night. Just cook double the eggs and buy two extra tomatoes and you’re all set!
-Make the first batch of your salad as close to the day you purchase all the ingredients. Otherwise your lettuce isn’t as fresh and crisp for the presentation.
-This is seriously a throw together salad with all the leftovers. So after making it like the original once, feel free to switch it up with chopped ham or rotisserie chicken. Switch out the cheese if you don’t like the bite of blue. Have fun creating your own version of Cobb’s Salad. Just remember, the original is a perfect blend of a melody of flavors and that’s what made it so famous!
Have you ever made Cobb Salad at home? Let us know your kitchen-tested tips!