Brown Derby Vinaigrette
It all started when my husband and I went to a recently opened restaurant in town – Bricktown Brewery. It’s not a real brewery, at least not at this location, but we thought we’d give it a chance. We never have high expectations, because our small town doesn’t attract the kind of restaurants we prefer to frequent.
As usual, the menu consisted mostly of burgers, sandwiches, even pizza. And then there it was – Cobb salad – one of my favorites! It was served “tossed in a Brown Derby vinaigrette.”
Since I’d never heard of this, I asked for the vinaigrette served on the side. I wasn’t that impressed with it – not very flavorful, and vinegar-heavy. And I love vinegar!
This was a perfect opportunity for me to learn more about this vinaigrette, and to make it from scratch; I was sure it would be much better.
Turns out, The Brown Derby name is the name of the same old, well-known restaurant in Los Angeles, California, that “invented” the Cobb Salad! It closed in 1985.
I found many recipes that were surprisingly similar to the following, but all ingredient lists for the vinaigrette started with water. Equal parts water, balsamic or red wine vinegar, and olive oil. Here goes.
Brown Derby Vinaigrette
4 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons olive oil
Place all of the ingredients in a jar and shake well. Alternatively, use a small blender jar.
I chose to use balsamic vinegar; I suggest omitting the sugar.
Cobb salads are a wonderful opportunity to create beauty on a plate, no matter if it’s a single bowl or a platter.
The salad consists of lettuce, chicken, avocados, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, optional purple onions, and blue cheese. However, I prefer feta over blue.
The chicken can be grilled, baked, pan-fried… some people like fried chicken bits. Also fry some large bacon dice.
Begin with the lettuce and keep adding ingredients. For fun I used both yellow and red cherry tomatoes.
Shake the vinaigrette and add to a bowl for serving.
Turns out, this vinaigrette made from scratch is delicious. It’s nothing like I had in the restaurant.
Such a beautiful presentation and it is interesting that the dressing recipe called for water. Were you tempted to omit the water?
I cut back by 50%. I thought it odd. but the resulting dressing is good.
I love a good Vinaigrette. Must give this one a try Mimi. Thanks!
Great! It was good!
There is something so inviting about a composed salad, like a little salad bar on a platter. This is beautiful Mimi, and the dressing sounds delicious, although the addition of water does make one pause for a second!
I know! That’s why I din’t want to use a mild vinegar.
What a salad, Mimi! What stands out to me is the Worcestershire, but I get it – it will make it more manly :-), meaning with more umami. I personally would not use the Balsamico, instead opting for a good red wine vinegar and the half Tsp sugar. I feel the balsamic sweetness is sometimes gooey, which I don’t like in a salad. But the salad itself is magnificent. You don’t need anything else for a full meal.
I know what you’re saying, but I chose balsamic because I was so worried about there being so little flavor with the water element. It turned out very good and not sweet.
Ooo this Cobb salad looks epic – so beautiful and colourful, just as I like. Great work on this Derby vinaigrette improvement. I usually make simplified vinaigrette, but I love the complexity of the flavour here!
It turned out really, well, but I understand about the simple vinaigrette.
I have always loved a Cobb salad, and yours looks particularly pretty. I like balsamic a lot and think that would be a great addition. I’m looking forward to giving this a try. It sounds so flavorful!
Thanks, Debra. It was interesting to try
lots of good gutsy flavours there mimi!
Yes! And delicious flavors!
The water in the dressing actually makes sense to me. I usually mix a bit into my vinaigrettes to light up the emulsion without adding more acid from vinegar or lemon. Equal parts sounds a bit thin though so I like the adjustment. Your salad is the most gorgeous thing! So much more inviting than the “rows” of ingredients on the restaurant salad!
Interesting. I’ve never done that, but then, I really love vinegar. Thank you!
Looks like the recipe for the dressing is nothing new but your salad presentation looks fantastic! I suppose the dressing should be understated anyway.
You’re probably right. But a creamy dressing would be good on this as well. I’m thinking Green goddess!
I will try this dressing. Sounds delicious and your platter is absolutely gorgeous. What a meal! So great for guests — I’ll just put that in the center of the table. Done! :-) ~Valentina
It does make for a pretty serving platter!
You have a knack for creating foods that are both healthy and delicious! Thank you for sharing….
Thank you Ann!
You couldn’t have said it better – “beauty on a plate.” So true! I love the presentation of this dish, Mimi. I’m not familiar with this vinaigrette, so of course I need to try it now! And a brewery that isn’t actually a brewery!? Say what??
Well, that would be Oklahoma, and its many chain restaurants…
I have The Brown Derby Restaurant Cookbook and posted a recipe for Cobb Salad back in 2015. There is a lot of water in the original recipe – I tried to tweak it but gave up and preferred other dressings.
That’s great! Cobb salads are so good. I don’t even mid a good ranch.
I’ve seen other vinaigrette recipes that include water. I usually omit it because, like you, I really enjoy the flavor of vinegar (and if I want to cut it, I prefer to add more oil). Interesting recipe — I’ve heard of it, but never had (or made) it. Thanks!
That really threw me when I saw water in the dressing. So odd… but what I ended up making was good.
I love a Cobb salad and your vinaigrette is a lot like the one I make! A wonderful warm weather meal!!
It really is, and I personally love composed salads.
We need to get an extra large platter just so we can serve it up just like you. So many delicious flavors and textures and the perfect party salad.
This would be great as part of a brunch, wouldn’t it?!
This entire recipe is simply outrageous! The salad alone is gorgeous with all the textures, flavors and colors. And then the vinaigrette you pulled together sounds AMAZING! I will have to try it especially since Spring is in the air and salads go perfectly in this season. BTW, I love all the interesting tidbits of restaurants, travel and cookbooks that you include in your posts. It’s fun to read.
Thank you Kristy! I’m old so I’ve had lots of experiences! That’s why so many of us food cooks were so sad the last couple f years without being able to travel…
First time I heard of this vinaigrette, that will definitely the next dressing that will touch the salad we are serving soon
You can certainly live a fulfilled life without trying this vinaigrette out, but it was good. Just good.
Love it ! I make something quite similar but without Dijon mustard. We both enjoy it !
Nice! It was good, but I’m going back to making vinaigrettes my way!
I’m always on the lookout for good salad dressings & vinaigrettes, and this one sounds easy and delicious.
It was okay! Nothing I’d really make again….
Good to have your thoughts on the dressing. It does sound like a standard modern-day vinaigrette, with the addition of Worcestershire sauce,
Right. Nothing I’d write home about! But worth blogging about.
Mimi! Thank you for these recipes. They are right up our alley and I am now looking forward to making them this week. I have not made a Cobb Salad in years and you have motivated me, especially with the Brown Derby dressing! We also love spiced and densely flavored cookies. These chocolate ones look amazing. Thanks again. Love , Elena
You are so sweet Elena! Glad to know people still cook! I still remember your home made eggnog!
Oh wow. That was my mom’s recipe and we had it every Christmas. So I made the Brown Derby dressing and the Cobb Salad for friends and we all enjoyed it so much. Making it tonight to send to friends recovering from Covid. Thanks for reminding me of this great salad. Love your assembly !
Aww thanks! I had never ever heard of it. But I love good Cobb salads!