Janssons frestelse | Brontë Aurell Janssons frestelse | Brontë Aurell

Janssons frestelse

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.

Scandi tip: If you do get hold of a tin of Grebbestads ansjovis, it needs to be kept in the fridge until use.

You will need:

  • 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

Have a 30x20cm baking dish ready to use and you’ll have enough to serve 4-6 people as a side.

What to do:

  • Heat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF, gas mark 6).
  • Peel the potatoes and chop them into small ½cm matchsticks (a bit thinner than French fries).
  • Put the potato matchsticks on a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 20 minutes to pre-cook.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Open the tin of ansjovis but don’t drain it! Layer half of the ansjovis evenly across the surface of the onions and potatoes.
  • Season the dish with salt and pepper, then pour over half the cream and milk.
  • Add another layer of onion and potato, plus the ansjovis just as you did before.
  • Pour over the ansjovis liquid from the tin, then pour over the rest of the milk and cream.
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and season.
  • 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.
  • Serve with your meal (sorry, cliché alert…) for a true taste of Sweden.