Tomato and Bacon Gratin

Tomato and Bacon Gratin

Recipe and Photos By Cody Owens

I’m going to pull the curtain back a little bit. As I’m writing this, it’s cold and rainy. The sun is going down around 4:30 p.m., the trees are all different shades of deep reds and oranges, and I’m craving a gratin because it’s November. 

The problem is that this issue is going to be on shelves in the spring and I need to come up with a recipe that’s in line with that. When I get stressed, I want cheese. That’s when I thought to myself, “Hey, tomatoes are a late springy vegetable, maybe I’ll try and make a tomato gratin.” Well, it turns out you can totally do that because we’re all the bosses of our own kitchens.

I sliced a couple of (out of season) tomatoes, fried some bacon, made a quick Mornay sauce (stick with me), topped it with some breadcrumbs, and served it with a little side salad. Holy moly! The finished product was a cheesy, savory, deconstructed BLT situation. Make it a meal, or make it a side dish. The important thing here is that you make it. 


5 medium tomatoes (This will vary greatly depending on what’s available; use enough to fill a 9” pie dish with a couple of layers of slices)

4 slices of bacon

¼ cup flour 

3 tablespoons of butter

1 ¼ cup of milk 

8 ounces of cheddar or Gruyère 

1 cup panko breadcrumbs 

A couple sprigs of fresh thyme 


  • This is a very important step. Cut some tomatoes into thicker slices—I used 5 medium tomatoes for a 9” pie dish—and season liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside. This will help draw out a lot of the moisture. Pat them dry with paper towels.


  • The Bacon. In a skillet, fry at least 4 pieces of bacon. Go nuts and do more if you want, but when it’s done, remove and drain some of the fat from the skillet. Keep about 1 tablespoon. 


  • The Mornay sauce. This is an important recipe/technique to keep in your back pocket and it’s very easy. There are a ton of Mornay recipes out there. This one is based on what I had at the time and it works well. 
  • In the bacon skillet (with some of the leftover fat) add 3 tablespoons of butter and melt. Then add ¼ cup of flour and whisk that all together. Stir, stir, stir. After that’s cooked for 2 or 3 minutes, slowly add the milk—it needs to be room temperature or warmed up—and whisk together. It’s not traditional, but I add fresh thyme here. It will thicken up a lot. 
  • Add about 2 ounces of the cheese and stir, stir, stir until it’s all emulsified. 


  • Assembly. There’s no real science to it, but I add a layer of cheese on the bottom, then tomatoes, bacon, a conservative amount of Mornay sauce, and cheese. I repeat this until the dish is filled, usually about 3 layers. It’s better to use less Mornay than more Mornay.
  • To ensure the breadcrumbs get crispy, I toss them in olive oil before I cover the top of the dish. 
  • Bake 25-30 minutes on 400 degrees. If the top gets dark brown before then, just take it out.
  • Very important last step. Let it rest at least 25 to 30 minutes so it can set.