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DIY Disney Recipe: Cobb Salad from The Hollywood Brown Derby

We’re thrilled to welcome back DFB guest chef Carol E.! This week, she shows us how to create the famous Cobb Salad from The Hollywood Brown Derby. Get your forks ready!

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!

The Hollywood Brown Derby's Dining Room.

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!

Cobb Salad served tableside.

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!

Salad Ingredients

*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
-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

Cobb Salad Ingredients.

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

Ingredients for dressing for Cobb Salad.

Instructions

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.

Making The Hollywood Brown Derby Old-Fashioned French Dressing.

-Whisking constantly, add the vegetable oil and olive oil in a steady stream until the dressing is emulsified.

Cobb Salad Vegetable and Olive Oil Ingredients.

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!

Whisking salad dressing ingredients together.

-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.

Iceburg lettuce chopped.

Chicory Chopped.

-Toss the finely chopped iceberg lettuce, chicory and watercress together and arrange in a large salad bowl.

All three lettuces mixed together in 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.

Ingredients for Cobb Salad chopped and placed in separate bowls.

-When ready to serve, arrange all ingredients in straight and separate lines across the top of the greens.

Cobb Salad ingredients placed atop lettuce.

-Sprinkle the snipped chives in two diagonal lines across the top of the salad (I found it easier just to make one line).

Chives atop Cobb Salad.

-Present your work of art to the table.

Serving Cobb Salad and Dressing!

-At the table when you are ready to serve, pour in all of your dressing and toss the entire salad.

Tossed Cobb 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!

Cobb Salad Plated.

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!

Cooked Bacon - fresh from the oven!

-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!

Don’t forget to check out our review of Disney’s Cobb Salad! And check out even more DIY Disney Recipes here!

Have you ever made Cobb Salad  at home? Let us know your kitchen-tested tips!

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12 Comments

  1. anne says:

    When I read some of the favorite things people suggested to eat at Disney, I though how could a salad make the list. Well, on our trip in February, I decided to try this famous Cobb salad. Now I have dreams of this salad. Just seeing your pictures makes my mouth water. I even wondered on our last day at Disney, if I could somehow get a to go order and have a cast member deliver to the entrance gate…. Simply put, this salad is one of the best things I have ever eaten. Thanks for your recipe!

  2. W.D. says:

    Carol:

    You have assembled my favorite Disney entree. As Anne pointed out, it is hard to imagine a salad as being such a big deal but it is. Your chef’s approach, and hints, were fantastic. I look forward to more articles from you in this format. I will be constructing a Cobb this week.

    One point where I would like to offer a suggestion is this. Coleman’s mustard is worth the extra cost. It was $3.95 at Publix last week when I purchased it. Generic dry mustard isn’t the same thing. Try a taste test. I have sold a lot of Coleman’s over the years by doing just that. From ham to salad dressings, Coleman’s is the only dry mustard in my kitchen.

    The Disney Food Blog has made my week. First Shula’s. AJ, that is my favorite place to eat in the world. The Dolphin or the Tampa location are at the top of my restaurant list. Now the Cobb Salad. It’s not even noontime and I am hungry…

  3. AJ says:

    Anne — So excited that you’ll be able to make this at home!! Let us know how it goes!

    W.D. — I’m so glad we could make your week! Loved your story about “Shula’s and The Auditor;” I’ve gotta get over there and comment!

  4. Beth Braxling says:

    I too, dreamed of this salad and tried it on a “sister’s” trip to WDW. This was our first visit to the Brown Derby. Beautiful restaurant, great service, and I got a wonderful white wine sampler. The salad…sorry, but I didn’t like it. Someone in the kitchen must have been in a chopping frenzy. Everything was so small and minced, not chopped! The waiter tossed it at the table before we saw the layers, so my first look was a green, ugly, minced-up mess. I felt I should have eaten it with a spoon. I guess I’m a person who likes to stab larger pieces and dip it in the dressing. Just know what the end product is and expect it.

  5. JoAnn says:

    I love the Cobb salad. It’s one of my favorites.

  6. Carol E. says:

    Anne- I completely agree! Maybe there’s a business here for a cast member in the college program! Gourmet Disney delivery man…you should trademark that;)

    W.D-thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement! I have been cooking for years, but new to the sharing part! I look forward to making many many many more Disney recipes! Thank you also for the tip on Coleman’s. I’ll try it next time!

    Beth- My husband felt the same way at the restaurant, I was ecstatic! Try making this at home with larger chops! The best part about cooking at home is that you get to make things the way you would like them!

    JoAnn- I was giddy making this recipe. It’s been my favorite for years and it tasted just like it! I think it’s the blend of strange lettuce and homemade dressing that really makes this dish!!!

    To all: Have fun making this dish at home! Let us know how it goes!!!

  7. Leslie says:

    Thanks for all the detail you put into this post! I can’t imagine something with bacon, blue cheese, and avocado not being great; I will certainly give this a try with the dressing. One thing I would add to the tip about cooking bacon – if you put a metal rack inside the baking sheet and the bacon on top of the rack, a lot of the grease will drip off of the bacon, and it will be crispier.

  8. Carol E. says:

    Thanks Leslie! Love it!! I’ll try that next time with the bacon:) Enjoy making the salad!

  9. Beth Barbara says:

    I cannot wait to try making the salad! I am obsessed with the salad-I won’t order anything else at The Hollywood Brown Derby.

  10. Carol E. says:

    Thanks Beth! Let me know how it turns out for you!!!

  11. Penny from Vermont says:

    I agree with Beth. I was so looking forward to this salad, but the waiter tossed it so quickly I never really got to look at it in its original form. I was very disappointed in the flavor as well. The flavors all melded together as it was more minced than chopped and it just tasted blah. I will never get it again as there are so many other wonderful looking things on the menu. The grapefruit cake though was fantastic!!

  12. Nick says:

    My wife an I both loved the cob salad from the Brown Derby. We ordered it from other restaurants since none could compare to the Brown Derby’s hands down. Disney knows food well and dose it the best. Every time we go to Disney world we eat at the Brown Derby and the La Celler in epcot, two of our favorite places to eat!

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