Janssons frestelse – permission to fall into temptation

Janssoninkiusaus (lit. ‘Jansson’s temptation’) is a Swedish traditional dish that was long only known as a night-time snack. Nowadays it has its place in the Swedish Christmas menu as well.

Several options have been suggested as the origin of the name ‘Janssoninkiusaus’, but no one knows with certainty. Some have thought the dish was named after the Swedish opera singer Per ‘Pelle’ Janzon (1844–1889). Janzon used to invite his friends and colleagues to his home for a night-time snack after the evening’s show, often serving a gratin made of potatoes, onions, anchovies and cream. According to different sources, the dish was developed either by Janzon in the 1800s or by Elvira Stigmark from Stockholm in the 1920s. Another theory is that the dish was named after the Swedish movie Janssons frestelse that premiered in 1929.

A third legend has it that the name originates from a Swedish sectarian preacher, Erik Jansson, who lived in the United States in the 1800s. After falling out with the authorities and the church of his home country, Jansson took his congregation and went into exile in Illinois, America. Once there, he founded a communist community called Bishop Hill. While strictly abstinent in every other aspect, he had one weakness: a delicacy dish made of potatoes, anchovies, onions and cream.

In any case, it is a classic dish from Sweden.

The Swedes fall into temptation on Christmas: janssoninkiusaus is a traditional part of the Swedish Christmas menu.

Janssoninkiusaus is prepared by shredding the potatoes, piling them up in layers with anchovies on a pan, and pouring double cream seasoned with anchovy stock on top. The original janssoninkiusaus is prepared with the so-called Scandinavian anchovy, i.e., seasoned European sprat.

Cheesy Janssons frestelse
four servings
10 medium-sized firm potatoes
1 large onion
2 tbsp butter
1 box (80 g) anchovy fillets
150 g crème fraîche
1/2 dl milk
3 tbsp finely chopped dill
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
150 g Le Gruyére AOP cheese, grated
1/2 tsp salt
  1. Peel and shred the potatoes, finely chop the onions. Sauté the onions in butter on a pan for approx. 5 minutes. Pour out the stock from the anchovy fillets. Mix together the crème fraîche, milk, finely chopped dill, coarsely ground black pepper, grated cheese and salt in a bowl.
  2. Spread half of the potato shreds on the bottom of a buttered oven pan. Spread the onions and anchovy fillets on top. Spread the rest of the potatoes on top. Pour the crème fraîche-cheese mix on top.
  3. First bake on the lowest level of the oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. Then turn on the upper heating and continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes until you can see the edges turning brown and crispy.
  4. Let the dish rest for a short while before serving.
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