This is a recipe from my first book, The ScandiKitchen, and there was no discussion about whether it should be included or not. Janssons frestelse – Jansson’s Temptation – is a non-negotiable part of the Swedish Christmas smörgåsbord.
It’s unusual for what is essentially a side dish to have such a status in Swedish food culture, but this potato gratin really is truly unique. The flavour comes from ansjovis – which are not anchovies as some translated recipes suggest. The Swedish ansjovi is a sweet-pickled sprat.
If you want to make this dish at all the times of the year when it isn’t Christmas, then it goes well with a roast dinner.
Just to reiterate: don’t be tempted to use regular anchovies in this dish. If you can’t get hold of Swedish ansjovis, use chopped plain pickled herring. It won’t taste quite the same, but it’ll be closer than the saltiness of anchovies.
Janssons frestelse (Jansson's temptation)
Scandi tip #1: If you do get hold of a tin of Grebbestads ansjovis, it needs to be kept in the fridge until use.
Scandi tip #2: Use a 30cm x 20cm dish.
Scandi tip #3: Once again, don't use regular anchovies!
- 1 x 125g tin Grebbestads ansjovis (or sweet pickled herring chopped into small slithers if you can’t get hold of ansjovis
- 700g potatoes (King Edward or similar)
- 200g onion, finely sliced
- 25g butter
- 300ml double cream
- 300ml whole milk
- 2 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
- salt and ground black pepper
- Step 1 Heat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF, gas mark 6).
- Step 2 Peel the potatoes and chop them into small ½cm matchsticks (a bit thinner than French fries).
- Step 3 Put the potato matchsticks on a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 20 minutes to pre-cook.
- Step 4 Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onion and cook until soft. Take care not to burn the onion – you want it soft, but not brown.
- Step 5 Take the potatoes from the oven and fold them into the onion. Layer half of the onion-potato mixture in the bottom of the baking dish.
- Step 6 Open the tin of ansjovis but don’t drain it! Layer half of the ansjovis evenly across the surface of the onions and potatoes.
- Step 7 Season the dish with salt and pepper, then pour over half the cream and milk.
- Step 8 Add another layer of onion and potato, plus the ansjovis just as you did before.
- Step 9 Pour over the ansjovis liquid from the tin, then pour over the rest of the milk and cream.
- Step 10 Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and season.
- Step 11 Bake for about 45 minutes until the potatoes are cooked. If the dish looks dry, add a little more milk – you’re aiming for a creamy gratin consistency.
- Step 12 Serve with your meal (sorry, cliché alert…) for a true taste of Sweden.