Thursday, March 26, 2015

English Pub Style Cobb Salad with Stilton Cheese and Curry Spice Chicken

      A Nice Variation Of The Classic Cobb Salad!
      For some reason I felt like making a Classic Cobb Salad example to used for a recipe article.  After giving it some thought, I figured that a regular Classic Cobb Salad would not be a good choice, because every chef and their mother's mother probably already has a Classic Cob Salad recipe published on the internet.
    Creating a unique Cobb Salad variation seemed like the best choice.  I had some good English Stilton Cheese in the fridge and then an idea clicked.  An English style version of a Classic Cobb Salad is probably something that has never been published as a recipe by anyone else.  "By jove, I think I've got it!"

     Passing By The Brown Derby
     The original Cobb Salad was created in the 1930's at the famous Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood California.  The Cobb Salad is one of the most popular salads that there is.  Many modern restaurants still offer this classic salad on their menu.
     My step grandfather managed several great Mexican restaurants in the Los Angeles area in the 1960's.  I used to tag along when he was driving around Los Angeles doing his district manager duties.
     The old original was located along the rout that my step grand-dad took to get to one of his job sites.  When we drove by that landmark restaurant, I always used to point at the Brown Derby and say "Lets go eat lunch at the place with the big hat!"
     My step grandfather always comically answered with this same response every time.  "What do you want to do?  Eat a Cobb Salad with the snooty rich Hollywood people or something?  I can't take you in there, because Hollywood stars steal children and stuff!" 

     The original Brown Derby in Hollywood sure was an easy landmark restaurant to identify.  The shape of the building looked like a gigantic brown derby hat!  The Brown Derby became a Los Angeles franchise restaurant and soon there were Brown Derby restaurants nationwide.  The Cobb Salad was the Brown Derby's signature salad.

     The Original Cobb Salad
     There are many recipes for classic Cobb Salads on the internet already.  There are many modified Cobb Salad recipes too.  It seems like the most recent modified Cobb Salad recipes were created several years ago, when fried chicken was a popular salad topping.

     The original Cobb Salad Ingredient List:
     • Iceberg Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Watercress and Sliced Chives
     • Crumbled Maytag Bleu Cheese
     • Broiled or Boil Chicken
     • Chopped Bacon, boiled egg, tomato and avocado
     • A Classic Cobb Salad can have a composed presentation or the ingredients can be tossed together.  The best Cobb Salad composed presentation is line up rows of each topping across the top of the salad.
     • French Salad Dressing was the original choice for Cob Salad dressing.  French Dressing may sound odd, but back the 1930's, Red Wine Vinaigrette was often called French Dressing.  The Brown Derby called Red Wine Vinaigrette by the name French Dressing for many decades.

     English Style Cobb Salad Version:
     For today's English Pub version of a Cobb Salad, crumbled English Stilton Cheese replaces Maytag Bleu Cheese.  Stilton Cheese has deep rich aged bleu cheese flavor.  Aged English Stilton is much sharper than Danish Bleu Cheese or French Roquefort.  Stilton is one of the world's most highly regarded cheeses.
     Seared Curry Spice Chicken gives today's Cobb Salad variation an English touch.  British folks like Indian curry, so curry spiced chicken fits nicely with the theme of this Cobb Salad variation.  
     Smoked Bacon adds a nice touch.  The lettuce choice is a mixture of baby lettuce greens, sliced chives and watercress.
     Stilton Cheese: 
     The history of Stilton Cheese is well worth reading.  When Stilton Cheese first came about in the early 1700's, the dining habits of cheese connoisseurs were quite different than in modern times.  Stilton cheese in the 1700's was served with a thick layer of cheese mites and insect larvae on the Stilton Wheel serving plate.  A spoon was set on the plate, so the mites and larvae could be eaten along with the cheese.
     Serving fine cheese in this manner was common practice in Europe several hundred years ago.  Since modern health regulations now take precedence, Stilton is now served clean with no cheese mites or larvae.

     *This entire recipe yields 1 large salad portion that can be shared by 2 guests!
     Red Wine Vinaigrette (French Salad Dressing):
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2  tablespoons of red wine vinegar in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of of dijon mustard.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch each of:
     - tarragon
     - basil
     - thyme
     - chervil
     Step 2:  Slowly stream of 1/4 cup of olive oil into the mixture, while gently whisking, to create a semi emulsified vinaegrette.
     Step 3:  Add 1 teaspoon of virgin olive oil while stirring.
     Allow the vinaegrette to stand for 5 minutes, so the flavors meld. 
     Smoked Bacon:
     Heat a griddle or sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Grill 3 slices of smoked bacon, till they are crispy.
     Place the crisp bacon on a cutting board.
     Chop the bacon into small bits.
     Set the smoked bacon bits aside.
     Curry Spice Chicken:
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of garam masala.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add 1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Add sea salt.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Trim the fat and skin off of an 8 ounce chicken breast filet.
     Place the chicken breast in the curry spice oil.
     Allow the chicken to marinate for 10 minutes in a refrigerator.
     Step 3:  Heat a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
     Place the curry spice chicken breast in the hot pan.
     Gently sauté the chicken on both sides, till it is fully cooked.  Flip the chicken often, so it cooks evenly and the curry spices do not brown.
     Step 4:  Set the chicken aside and let it cool.
     Dice the curry spice chicken breast into small bite size pieces.

     English Pub Style Cobb Salad with Stilton Cheese and Curry Spice Chicken:
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/2 cups of mixed baby lettuce in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 cup of watercress.
     Add 3 tablespoons of fresh chives that are cut into 3/8" lengths.
     Toss the lettuce mixture.
     Step 2:  Mound the lettuce mixture on an oval shaped serving platter.
     Step 3:  Arrange 1 or 2 rows of each of these ingredients across the salad in any order that that creates eye appeal:
     - chopped hard boiled egg
     - crumbled English Stilton Cheese
     - chopped tomato
     - smoked bacon bits
     - diced avocado
     - diced curry spice chicken
     Place the red wine vinaegrette in a small ramekin and serve it on the side.
     This English pub style Cobb Salad has an interesting flavor combination that is quite tasty! 

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