Prepare the pecans: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and roast until toasted, 10 to 12 minutes; set aside.
Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Add the vinegar and maple syrup to the skillet and bring to a simmer; cook until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pecans and Old Bay. Spread on the baking sheet and let cool, then roughly chop.
Prepare the salad: Bring the bourbon to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until reduced to about 1/3 cup, 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in the maple syrup and vinegar; bring to a gentle simmer and cook until reduced by half, 2 to 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the shallot and set aside to cool. Whisk in the thyme and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil, whisking until incorporated.
Arrange the melon on a platter and season with sea salt. Spoon the bourbon-maple vinaigrette over the melon, then sprinkle with the pecans. Top with the cilantro.
Photograph by Jason Varney
Recipe courtesy Jose Garces for Food Network Magazine
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