My sister-in-law Annika was born and raised in Sweden and in the 20 or so years since she appeared in our lives, (cue ABBA’s Greatest Hits) she has introduced us to such marvels as aquavit (also called snaps), lingonberry, ginger cookies, and (stop ABBA soundtrack and start spare, percussive track suitable for forbiddingly cold and spare winter landscapes and mythic creatures) the Volvo commercial featuring footballing demi-god Zlatan Ibrahimović. Mmmm.
Thanks to Annika, we like to do a Swedish Christmas Eve buffet table. Or we like to have her do a Swedish Christmas Eve smorgasbord to which we contribute a couple of things.
Unfortunately she and my brother and my marvellous niece don’t live close enough to us anymore for Swedish Christmas Eve all together, but thanks to IKEA, my dad’s gravlax (salt and sugar-cured salmon) and Annika’s easy potato gratin recipe, (The dish is called Jansson’s temptation) we were able to do a reasonable facsimile this year. Emboldened by the success of this dish, I think I will try her Swedish meatball recipe next year!
Important note: The Swedish call sprats (a small fish/herring) by the name ‘anjovis’. DO NOT BE FOOLED. They are not the same ‘anchovies’ as you buy in the tinned fish section of your local supermarket (unless your local supermarket happens to be IKEA). They are not oil or salt-packed Italian anchovies with a strong salty fish character. These are pickled in spiced vinegar and are light and completely different. So beware!
Willy’s online seems to sell them, although a recent check showed them to be sold out! i-Gourmet has them too. I will be trying out tinned “bristlings” which might be the same and I will let you know.
This is Annika’s recipe, halved, which was more than enough for our family of four. If you want to feed loads of people, simply double the quantities and use a 9×13 oven dish
About 1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 tin spiced and pickled Swedish ‘ansjovis’ (sprat filets) – I use “ABBA Anchovy Style Sprat Fillets” from IKEA
1 Cup whipping cream/heavy cream
Butter for greasing the pan
Preheat oven to 425°
Butter an 8×8 dish and spread about a third of the potatoes over the base. Cover with about half of the onion, and place half the ‘ansjovis’ fillets on top (save the liquid that the ‘anjovis’ are in!).
Cover with another third of potatoes, then the rest of the onion, and the rest of the ‘anjovis’. Finish with a last layer of potatoes.
Pour the liquid from the ‘anjovis’ tin over the potato mixture.
Pour the cream over the potatoes – you may need a bit more or a bit less – it depends on the size of the dish you’re using. You want the cream to almost cover the potatoes.
(Other people like to sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and dot some butter slices over the breadcrumbs, but I never do.)
Bake in a 425°oven for about 1 hour. It’s ready when the potatoes are soft and the top layer is getting golden.
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Scandinavian Shrimp Salad (Skagen Salad)