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Maine Lobster Cobb Salad with Sweet Corn, Hard-Cooked Eggs, Bacon and Smoked-Tomato Vinaigrette
Makes 4 entree salads
*4 Smoked Tomatoes or Slow-Roasted Tomatoes (8 halves)
*3 tbls. + 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
*1/3 cup + 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
*Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
*8 strips smoked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch crosswise strips
*2 lobsters (about 1 1/2 lbs. each) cooked and shelled, claws reserved for garnish, or 6 to 8 ounces cooked lobster meat
*1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels, blanched for 1 minute (about 2 ears)
*4 hard-cooked eggs, yolks sieved and whites finely chopped.
*1 small red onion, finely diced
*1 large avocado (preferably Hass), peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch dice
*1/2 bunch finely chopped fresh chives
*Leaves from 1 bunch frisée lettuce
*1 head long (Trevisco) radicchio or round (Verona) radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
1To make the vinaigrette, combine the tomatoes, 3 tbls. lemon juice and ⅓ cup olive oil in a blender and puree until emulsified, about 20 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
2In a small saute pan or skillet, fry the bacon strips until slightly crunchy and the fat has started to render. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels until ready to use.
3Cut the lobster meat into ½-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine the cut-up lobster, bacon, corn, eggs, red onion, avocado and chives. Whisk the remaining ¼ cup lemon juice and ½ cup olive oil together and toss with the lobster mixture.
4To serve, toss the frisée and radicchio together and divide among the plates. Mound on some of the lobster mixture. Whisk the vinaigrette and drizzle it around the salads, placing an extra spoonful on top. Garnish with a lobster claw, if using, and serve.
Chef's Tips
  • All the tastes of a New England summer barbecue are in this popular entree salad, served for lunch at Farallon. Our lobster Cobb was inspired by the original salad, created at the famous Brown Derby in Hollywood. Of course, many great restaurant dishes have been born out of necessity, but the Cobb salad is legendary. It's said that in 1926, the Brown Derby's owner, Bob Cobb, searching the walk-in refrigerator for leftovers, gathered together a salad of chicken, avocado, watercress, bacon, hard-cooked eggs, tomatoes and Roquefort cheese, chopped them all up, then tossed them with French dressing. Syd Grauman was so enamored of the dish that he told all his friends about it and another Hollywood star was born. Bradford Barker, Farallon's lunch chef and a native New Englander, was inspired by the legendary Cobb to create a contemporary version that includes Maine lobster, corn and fris
  • Adding smoked rather than roasted tomatoes to the vinaigrette takes this salad to another taste level. The smoking takes less than 30 minutes, but you need either an outdoor or stovetop smoker. Slow-roasting is an alternative that gives a depth of flavor to even poor-quality, off-season tomatoes.
  • Another, more elegant, way to serve this dish is to slice, rather than chop the ingredients and present it as a composed salad, which would be good for a more formal luncheon.
  • Chicken, prawns, crab, even salmon could be used in place of lobster. The original Cobb included Roquefort cheese, but I wouldn't add cheese if you use fish or shellfish in the salad.
  • The tomato vinaigrette can be made as much as 2 days in advance. Except for the avocado, which should be diced and added just before serving, all the salad ingredients can be cooked and diced ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  • You can use cooked lobster meat instead of preparing your own. If you don't have time to either smoke or roast your tomatoes, just make the vinaigrette with peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes. The dish will still be delicious.
  • Salads are notorious for being difficult to pair with wines because of the acidity of vinaigrettes, but they needn't be. Just remember to choose a wine with enough of its own acidity to stand up to the dressing. This salad would be delightful with a crisp, barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc from California. A white Burgundy like M

Mark Franz of Farallon Restaurant, San Francisco, CA.