Bacon, Pear, and Blue Cheese Salad
Seckel pears work best for this salad, but others, such as Forelle, make a good substitute. If small pears are not available, use four to five Bosc pears and cut into quarters rather than halves.
- 4 cups apple cider, or juice
- 1 small baguette, cut diagonally into 12 slices (1/2 inch each)
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 9 Seckel pears
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 8 medium shallots, peeled and cut into quarters
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 6 thick slabs bacon (6 ounces each), cut crosswise into 1-inch squares
- 2 watercress, washed and large stems removed
- 1/2 pound blue cheese
Place cider in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 30 minutes. Cider should have a syrupy consistency. Remove from heat, and keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Make croutons: Place bread slices on a baking sheet, and brush with 4 tablespoons butter. Toast until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
Cut pears in half; remove seeds with a small melon baller, and discard. Place pears in a medium bowl. Squeeze lemon juice over, and toss to combine. Add shallots to bowl. Drizzle with remaining 4 tablespoons melted butter; sprinkle with sugar, salt, and pepper; and toss to coat. Place in roasting pan, pears cut side down. Roast until golden brown and soft when pierced with a knife, 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and gently with a wooden spoon.
While pears are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon, and saute until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; set aside. Remove pears and shallots from pan, and keep warm.
Arrange watercress on six serving plates, top with warm pear mixture, and sprinkle with bacon. Place two croutons with a piece of blue cheese on each plate. Drizzle reduced cider over salad. Serve immediately.