When I need something comforting in difficult times I often turn to potatoes. They remind you of your childhood, those truly special meals and the solution to that terrible hangover.
Traveling a lot this year has given me some new ideas for what to do with them. One of the national dishes of Sweden is Janssons Temptation. The essence of the dish is a gratin of potatoes with onions and cream, traditionally with preserved sprats but anchovies are often used in recipes today.
From here it appears to be open to interpenetration. Bronte Aurell, co-founder and director of Scandinavian Kitchen cuts the potatoes into french fry shapes and uses the traditional tinned sprats. If you can find tinned sprats in the UK, a great recipe. I substituted the sprats for tinned sardines. Super tasty, oily and rich and you will find them in any supermarket or village shop.
One of my food heroes, Simon Hopkinson suggests using Swedish tinned anchovies (less salty, I would definitely avoid the Italian salted variety) and then very thinly slicing the potatoes in the style of dauphonoisse. Both finish this with single cream and topped with breadcrumb.
The type of potato here can be very important. Simon Hopkinson is very specific about using the red potato variety Desiree. It has a lovely yellow buttery flesh. I would always choose a nice floury British variety such as Maris piper or King Edward. This will breakdown a little when cooked its worth it to get the great flavour.
I also looked at the idea of grating the potato and squeezing all the water out and cooking the dish like a rosti. With such a simple concept the options are endless.
When I came to make this I wanted a lovely light lunch and felt like using my own interpretation to make this with creme fraiche instead of cream. I do this a lot, its lighter and has a fresh slightly acidic taste which adds to this dish. As I said before I used tinned sardines to give this an English twist!
Janssons Temptation with creme fraiche & dill.
2 x 100g tins of sardines. Use tins in brine ideally. Not the tomato sauce options!
2 large Maris piper potatoes
roughly 250g full fat creme fraiche
handful of fresh dill
First, thinly slice the onions and soften in oil or butter with salt until slightly golden and soft.
Peel your potatoes and thinly slice. I cut then to around half centimeter pieces. Mix together your potatoes and cooked onions in a bowl and mix in around 2 tablespoons of creme fraiche. Drain the fish and lightly flake into the boil and mix again. In individual dishes layer the fish, potatoes and onions. Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 180oc.
After abut 20 minutes check to see if the potato has softened. Once it has, uncover (top with breadcrumbs if you wish) and cook for another 15 minutes or so until the top turns more golden and brown.
Once out of the oven top with a spoonful of creme fraiche and some fresh dill. I ate my on my own, but with a piece of meat or a simple salad works great.