A Southern Spin on the Classic Cobb Salad

Barbecue makes a frequent appearance at our house, whether my fiancé smoked thirty pounds of pig using his secret family recipe, or I slow-cooked a batch of my signature oven-braised pulled pork. Either way, you can guarantee there are going to be plenty of leftovers for snacking. And while I am usually happy with just a plain ol’ sandwich (cheap white bun and vinegar sauce, please), every now and then I have so much extra that I have to start experimenting.

I’ve made pulled pork quesadillas and pulled pork hash. In fact, the only thing I haven’t made is pulled pork french fries. (Note to self: is that even possible? Must try soon.) It seems I am always looking for the next big thing. My fiancé and I eat Cobb salads on a regular basis, so it was only natural for me to add pork instead of the usual chicken or turkey, and let’s just say it was a bona fide hit.

To add a bit more Southern flavor — or Southwest, depending on who you ask — I added corn and black beans, two of my favorite summer ingredients. This Cobb salad really gets its flare, though, from the crunchy cornbread croutons, another great way to use up your leftovers. Not only do they look great, but they taste great too. I like to mash ‘em up in my salad to make sure bits and pieces end up in every single bite. (Don’t forget to leave out any extras out for snacking!)

This salad got two enthusiastic thumbs up from my fiancé, which means it is destined to be a forever favorite. Serve it tossed with a heavenly combo of creamy ranch dressing and tangy barbecue sauce, and you get a little bit of summer in every single bite.

Pulled Pork Cobb Salad with Cornbread Croutons
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour (or overnight)
Yields: 4 servings

cornbread croutons

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
1 cup whole buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil

for the salad

2 (8 ounce) bags romaine salad mix
1/2 pound leftover pulled pork
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 large ripe tomato, diced
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup yellow corn, fresh or frozen
Cornbread croutons (recipe above)
Ranch dressing, to serve
Favorite barbecue sauce, to serve
Shredded Monterey jack-cheddar blend, to serve

for the cornbread croutons:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease an 8 x 11 rectangular baking dish. (If making croutons, the cornbread is best prepared a day in advance.)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, thoroughly whisk the melted butter, buttermilk, and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth the top. Bake until cornbread is golden yellow, about 17 to 22 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Cut the cornbread into 1-inch cubes and allow to dry out overnight (or dry out in a 375 degree oven for 5-10 minutes if not making the recipe in advance).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle the olive oil over the cornbread and gently toss to combine, you just want enough to lightly coat. Spread the cubes onto a baking sheet and cook, tossing occasionally, until croutons are crisp and light golden brown, about 15 minutes.

For the salad:

Pile romaine mix into an oval serving dish or bowl. Arrange pulled pork, bacon, eggs, beans, corn, tomatoes, and croutons in thin rows over the lettuce. Serve with sides of ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, and shredded cheese. For easier serving (but less visual appeal), you can toss the salad with cheese and an equal amount of ranch and barbecue sauce.

Nealey moved from Alabama to the West Coast to follow her dreams, only to realize once there how much she missed good ol’ country cooking.  So she took to the kitchen and began re-creating the dishes of her past, but this time without any help from a can. What started out as a hobby turned into an obsession, so she quit her day job to pursue cooking, and eating, fulltime. Dixie Caviar is where you can follow her pursuits of all things Southern.

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