Spit-Roasted Chicken Cobb Salad

Which of the world’s hundreds of chicken salads to choose? Obviously the easiest and most delicious one. I love the simple “Club Salad” of Jim Beard, who credits the women’s committee of the Baltimore Museum for taking a chicken B.L.T. club sandwich, removing the toast, and turning it into a salad.

I love chicken and lobster together, making a salad with sliced celery, cooked thin green beans, cooked celery root, and watercress dressed in walnut oil, lemon juice, and chopped shallots, with lobster mayonnaise on top of the chicken and lobster. I believe the best chicken salads come from large rotisserie-roasted birds. I pull one apart, marinate it with chopped fresh thyme and a little olive oil, and put it on a bed of curly endive dressed with lemon and walnut oil. On top of the chicken, first throw some chopped jicama and water chestnuts (with basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper), then green goddess sauce, and then a cilantro salad dressed with lemon juice and sesame oil.

But my favorite is this spit-roasted chicken Cobb salad with pancetta and avocado. If you have a store with spit-roasted chicken that you trust, use them for this recipe if you don’t want to roast the chicken yourself.

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Ingredients

  • 1 spit-roasted chicken
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 strips pancetta or apple-wood smoked bacon
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped tomato
  • 1 small head romaine lettuce, cored, stemmed, roughly chopped (¾ inch pieces)
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, shelled, quartered
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, chopped into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ cup blue cheese, rindless, crumbled
  • ¾ cup mixed chopped fresh herbs (basil, chives, Italian parsley, tarragon, chervil, marjoram)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Take the meat off the chicken and pull it apart by hand into bite-sized pieces. Chop the skin and mix it with the meat. Add the thyme and lemon juice, salt and pepper, mix well, and whisk in the oil. Add the chicken and toss it in the olive oil-lemon dressing. The seasoned chicken will hold for a day in the refrigerator, but when serving, make sure it is room temperature.

Broil the pancetta or bacon, drain, and chop coarsely.

Put the vinegar with salt and pepper in a chilled salad bowl, and whisk in the olive oil. Put the tomatoes in a little bowl, add a tablespoon of the dressing, season, and mix.

Put the romaine in the salad bowl, and place the pancetta, eggs, avocado, blue cheese, and fresh herbs in alternate piles on top of the lettuce just inside the edge of the bowl, two piles of each. Then place the tomatoes in the center of the lettuce.

At the table, toss the whole thing together for 2 minutes and provide a pepper grinder.

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