This is one of the all time favorites almost in any Swedish home and an absolute legend on the Christmas table or served as a late night dish, also called ‘vickning’, meaning ‘pick me up’ after having enjoyed too many glasses late at night, say hello to Janssons Frestelse - Janssons Temptation. Who was Jansson? What was the occasion for the very first temptation? Food writers argued for years over the origins of the name. But in 1989, writer Gunnar Stigmark revealed what might be the final answer to the enigma. The straight forward casserole had been a popular dish with the wealthy in central Stockholm for quite some time, when for a New Year’s party in 1929, Stigmark’s mother came up with the idea of making the simple but rich dish somehow sound a bit more compelling. One of the blockbuster movies at the time was a film with Edvin Adolphsson called “Janssons Frestelse.” Thus, Jansson’s was born. Whether the story is true or not, which sounds more tempting to you: anchovy-potato casserole, or Jansson’s Temptation? This simple potato gratin, topped with crispy breadcrumbs, soft on the inside and spiced up with small pickled sprats to add an almost undefinable sweet saltiness to the dish. But don’t be alarmed by the sprat thing. It doesn’t taste like fish – the sprats are just seasoning – a Temptation tastes smooth and creamy with just a tiny hint of the ocean. Many English Jansson Temptation recipes use anchovies – due to a very common translation mistake. The Swedish word ansjovis is often translated (and understandably so) into the English anchovies, but the fact of the matter is that ansjovis in Swedish actually means pickled sprats. Why Sweden decided to be rebellious about this subject – and name anchovies sardeller, and pickled sprats ansjovis – we’ll never know. Now, if you don’t feel like ‘Swedifying’ your Christmas this year – don’t despair. Save the recipe for any cold dark night - Janssons Temptation deserves to be eaten all through the winter, served as it is without any accessories, or together with a few well barbecued bangers or a yummy salad and a nice beer. Main Course, serves: 4-6 by Kalle Bergman
- 4-6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thin strips
- 1 Cup of heavy cream
- 7 Oz of pickled sprats (keep the marinade)
- Salt & pepper
- 2 Tablespoons of breadcrumbs
- 2 Large onions
- 1 Stick of organic butter
- Preheat the oven to 430°F.
- Slice and cut the onion. Fry it gently in butter until golden. Layer onions, potatoes and finely chopped sprats in a large buttered oven dish (or in several smaller ones like in the picture above). Pour in the cream and about half of the marinade from the sprats. Grind some black pepper on top, spread bread crumbs over the potatoes, and top with a few slices of butter.
- Bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown, for about 50-60 minutes. Place some aluminum foil on top during the last 10-15 minutes if you think it has gotten too much color.