Seckel pears and shallots, caramelized in the oven, are placed on watercress and sprinkled with crisp bacon. The dressing is a tart, syrupy reduction of pure apple cider. Blue cheese on croutons is served alongside.
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.
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.