Janssons frestelse or Jansson’s temptation − a creamy potato and anchovy casserole − is said to have been named for Pelle Janzon, a food-loving Swedish opera singer of the early 20th century. The recipe was published for the first time in 1940, and this rich casserole quickly became a classic of the Swedish Christmas dinner table. But Jansson’s temptation can just as easily be eaten at any time of year. It is quite remarkable that something as simple as potatoes, onions, anchovies and cream can taste so very good.
- 6–8 servings
- 1.2 kg (2½ lb) potatoes
- 400 g (14 oz) onions
- 375 g (13 oz) spice-cured sprat filets - see tip below
- 600 ml (3 cups) heavy whipping cream
- white pepper
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into slices a little thicker than a pound coin.
- Peel and cut the onions into thin slices, sautéing them gently in a little butter without browning.
- Grease an ovenproof baking dish and cover the bottom with a layer of potatoes, then add half the onions and half the sprat (“anchovy”) filets.
- Another layer of potatoes, then the rest of the onion and sprats.
- Finish with a layer of potatoes.
- Flatten the surface, apply a few turns of pepper fresh from the mill and sprinkle on a little salt.
- Pour the cream on until it is almost visible through the potatoes. Place a few pats of butter on top and, if desired, sprinkle with some breadcrumbs.
- Bake in the middle of the oven (250oC/475oF) for about an hour.
- Sprats: Recipes for Janssons frestelse in English often call for anchovies, but this is a mistranslation. For authenticity, sprats preserved in oil (ansjovis in Swedish) should be used. You can find Swedish sprats for sale online or at your local Ikea in the food section. Nonetheless, if you can't find true ansjovis, regular anchovies, rinsed well in fresh water, can substitute.