In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the pecans, and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 3 minutes. Add the sugar and Essence, and cook, stirring, until the sugar is melted, 30 seconds. Add the apples and cook until the sugar is caramelized and the apples are tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a baking sheet lined with waxed paper or aluminum foil, and separate with a fork.
In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallots, and bourbon. Add the oil, whisking, until smooth. Add the sour cream, salt, and pepper, and whisk until smooth. Adjust seasoning, to taste.
In a large bowl, place the whole lettuce leaves, watercress, ham, and cheese. Add about 1/2 cup of dressing and toss to coat. Divide among plates and top with the candied apples and pecans. Drizzle with dressing and top with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chives and serve.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings