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.