Citizens, we start to wind down the week of pickles with the famous dish of Jansson’s Temptation, not typically associated with pickles! This delicious casserole is a blend of julienned potatoes, thinly sliced onions and authentically made not with salted anchovies as you may have tried, but Swedish sweet pickled anchovy fillets, all bathed in cream and topped with breadcrumbs.
As the dish bakes, the flavors of the anchovies and their pickling spices get succulently tempered by the cream, so the dish may even appeal to those who don’t profess to like anchovies.
The recipe for the temptation is named after Erik Jansson, the 19th century Swedish religious zealot and self-appointed prophet who took his disciples to America and founded a colony called Bishop Hill in Illinois.
Although adamantly opposed to the pleasures of the flesh and insisting his followers deny all earthly pleasures, one day Janson found himself so sorely tempted by this crusty dish cooling on a window shelf that he threw out his principles to devour it — in secret, of course. As the tale goes, he was caught in the act by a disillusioned follower and the colony soon fell apart after they heard of his hypocrisy.
Most Swedish families serve Jansson’s temptation as part of their Christmas Day dinner. It also typically appears on a smorgasbord, which also would likely offer shrimp and pickled herring, gravlax (cured salmon), Swedish meatballs, cooked cabbage, and hard-boiled egg halves topped with caviar, as well as crisp and soft breads and various salads.
Anchovies are a must for this dish, and it is delicious made with them. That said, I hope you will try the recipe made the true way with Swedish pickled anchovies! 🙂
I’ve also added a few fresh herbs to my version of the recipe, but feel free to omit them if you prefer the classic dish! This would be delicious served with Swedish ‘hamburgers’.
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