As of late I’ve been up to my whisk in work. That won’t stop me, though, from passing along a good recipe. This time it’s for a Swedish specialty known as Jansson’s Temptation. Featuring anchovies fillets and sliced potatoes, this casserole has become a surprise hit in my household. Usually anchovies are a hard sell but, when paired with potatoes, sautéed onions and a bit of cream, they’re an absolute delight to eat.
Jansson’s Temptation’s exact origins remain a mystery. Some historians attribute the dish to a 19th century Swedish religious reformer who loved anchovies, onions and spuds. Others point to an early 20th century Stockholm hostess who created the entrée for a dinner party. She reputedly dubbed the invention “Jansson’s Temptation” in honor of a 1928 film of the same name. No matter how it got its start, it continues to be a beloved staple of Swedish cuisine.
In Sweden the casserole often pops up at smorgasbords, those buffet-style meals featuring hot and cold foods. In my house it serves as a warm and satisfying meal on rainy, summer evenings and dark, fall days. Pair Jansson’s Temptation with a mixed greens salad or enjoy it on its own with cup of strong coffee or shot of chilled aquavit.
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small white onions, thinly sliced
1 ½ pounds potatoes, washed, peeled, halved and sliced into 1/4-inch crescents
2 (2-ounce) cans of anchovy fillets, drained
¾ cup heavy cream
½ cup milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 2-quart baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the ground white pepper, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and set aside.
Melt two tablespoons of butter in a medium-sized frying or sauté pan on medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until golden in color, about 7 minutes.
Place half of the potatoes in the bottom of the greased dish. Layer the onions, followed by the anchovy fillets and remaining potatoes over them. You may need to press down on the layers so that everything fits snugly in the dish.
Whisk together the cream and milk and pour it into the baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the potatoes and then drizzle the melted butter over the top. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and golden brown. Serve warm.