Provided by: Chef Mina Newman
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 cups whole walnuts
3/4 cup minced shallots
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup melted bacon fat (optional; 1/4 cup olive oil may be substituted)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Bosc or Bartlett firm pears
Juice of 1 lemon
1 and 1/2 to 2 pounds Bibb or butterhead lettuce, tough outer leaves discarded, remaining leaves separated and left whole
10 ounces Maytag blue cheese, in large crumble
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the canola oil, cayenne pepper, and sugar in a bowl until smooth. Toss in the walnuts, and stir until they are coated. Spread the walnuts out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and roast in the oven until a deep brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until cool and crisp.
Add the shallots, mustard, and vinegar to a bowl and mix together. Slowly whisk in the bacon fat and oil until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper (do not refrigerate).
Core the pears, but do not peel. Cut them into thin lengthwise slices, and toss in a bowl with lemon juice. Add the lettuce, cheese, walnuts, and pears to a large bowl, and toss together with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Make a high stack of lettuce leaves on each plate, starting with medium leaves and going to smaller ones; sprinkle with walnuts and cheese and top with the sliced pears.