Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas for me without Janssons frestelse. Also known as Jansson’s temptation, is a delicious creamy potato gratin, traditionally served at Christmas and Easter in Sweden. (This dish is also served in Finland, and known as janssoninkiusaus).
It typically appears on the julbord, aka the Christmas smörgåsbord, an elaborate buffet of typical festive food. There are a variety of pickled, cold, and hot fish; sliced meats, cheese, and desserts. Janssons frestelse is served as a hot side with meats toward the end of the meal.
Janssons is a simple potato dish. Consisting of potatoes (must be floury), onion, cream and breadcrumbs. The star ingredient however is Swedish anchovies. Grebbestads Ansjovis are quite unique in flavour. They are in fact cured sprats and have a slightly spiced, sweet flavour, quite different to anchovies in olive oil. This classic comfort dish is a little on the heavy side so I have blended cream with a milk to lighten it. I have tried to replicate the original dish with the addition of a little honey if you can’t get hold of the Swedish tinned sprats.
Janssons Frestelse (Temptation)
- 580 g floury potatoes i.e. King Edwards
- 1 large onion peeled and finely sliced
- 30 g butter
- 1 tbls sunflower oil
- 125g tin Grebbestads ansjovis (Abba) or 50g tin anchovies in oil, drained & 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp white wine vinegar, 1 pinch cinnamon & nutmeg
- 170 ml whipping cream
- 60 ml whole milk
- 2 Tbls fresh white breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 190°C fan.
- Begin with the onion. Heat a medium saucepan to medium/high and add half the butter and the sunflower oil. Add the onion and cook on a medium to low heat for 5-10 minutes or until very soft and lightly golden.
- If you have a mandolin, cut the potatoes into julienne, otherwise slice the potatoes then cut into matchsticks. Do not rinse them.
- If you are using the Swedish anchovis, drain away half of the liquid from the tin and reserve the rest for to mix with the cream. This liquor acts as seasoning for the dish. If you are using standard anchovies in olive oil, drain the olive oil then place the fillets in a bowl with the other ingredients and add 30mls hot (not boiling) water and leave for 20 minutes.
- Chop the anchovies. Grease an ovenproof dish with a little butter. Add a layer of potato, followed by some of the sautéd onion then a scattering of anchovies. Season with white pepper and a very light sprinkling of salt. Repeat with, potato, onion and anchovy. Finish with a layer of potato.
- Pour the cream with the milk, anchovy liquor or water into a saucepan and heat to boiling point, then pour over the potatoes. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining butter. Cover with foil and place on a low oven shelf. bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and reduce the heat to 180°C fan. Continue to bake for 40-45 minutes or until the potatoes are golden and very soft. Serve as part of a Smörgåsbord or with a green salad and crusty bread.