Jansson's Temptation 6.000

Dominic Bracco II for The Washington Post

Dec 24, 2008

This is a rich, aromatic side dish of potatoes, salty fish, cream and onion that graces a traditional Swedish smorgasbord. There are several theories as to how the dish got its name; one account says it is named after Erik Jansson, a Pietist who was caught eating the concoction by a shocked disciple and accused of failing to reject personal indulgence.

The marinated sprats are available at Ikea.

Make Ahead: The potatoes can be baked, cooled, covered and refrigerated 1 day in advance. To serve warm, reheat them uncovered in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Servings: 6 - 8
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into small dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 3.5-ounce tin marinated sprat fillets, such as Abba brand, coarsely chopped, liquid reserved
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup low-fat or whole milk
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons plain bread crumbs, such as panko


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use the butter to lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch (or slightly smaller) baking dish. Place the baking dish on a baking sheet (to catch any spills).

Cut off the rounded sides of the potatoes to make 4 large potato rectangles (which will be easier to cut into thin sticks); place the trimmings in a small bowl of cool water to keep them from turning brown. Cut the rectangular potatoes into thin matchsticks, slicing either down the length of the potato or in half (closer to matchstick length). Place them in a large bowl of cool water as you work.

Cut the potato trimmings into smaller matchstick-size pieces and add to the larger bowl of potatoes.

Drain the cut potatoes and pat dry. Use about one-third of them to line the bottom of the baking dish, pressing them flat. Sprinkle with half of the diced onion and half of the sprats. Season lightly with pepper. Create a second layer with half of the remaining potatoes, then top with the remaining onion and sprats and a sprinkling of pepper. Finish with the remaining potatoes, pressing down gently.

Combine the heavy cream, milk and about 2 tablespoons of the reserved liquid from the can of sprats in a liquid measuring cup, stirring to combine. Pour evenly over the casserole; the liquid will not fill the baking dish or completely cover the casserole. Scatter the bread crumbs evenly over the top.

Spray the dull side of a large piece of aluminum foil with nonstick cooking oil spray, then place it sprayed side down on the casserole to cover tightly. Bake the casserole on the baking sheet for 55 to 65 minutes, then discard the foil. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the bread crumbs. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the crumbs are lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe by Swedish Caterers of Washington.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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