Janson's Temptation

This recipe is from The American Heritage Cookbook, Penguin Books 1967 (first published in the USA by American Heritage 1964).

Eric Janson, the Swedish religious reformer who founded Bishop Hill, Illinois, in 1846, preached religious asceticism to his followers, no liquor and a diet that barely sustained life. One day, according to legend, a zealous Jansonist discovered the prophet feasting, secretively, on a casserole of anchovies and potatoes, bound together with golden butter and rich milk. The dish became known as Janson's Temptation.

  • Fine dry breadcrumbs
  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 2 small tins anchovy fillets, drained
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 75 gms butter
  • 2 cups milk

Butter a 1-litre casserole or baking dish and coat bottom and side with crumbs.

Peel potatoes and cut into paper-thin slices. Combine onion, anchovies (cut into pieces), pepper and butter.

Layer a third of the potatoes in bottom of dish and sprinkle half the onion mixture over it. Add another layer of potatoes and the rest of the seasonings. Top with remaining potatoes and pour in the milk. Sprinkle top with 1/3 cup of crumbs and dot with butter.

Bake in a pre-heated 190° C oven (Gas 3-4) for about 1 hour. Potatoes should be tender when tested with a fork and milk should be largely absorbed. Do not add salt because the anchovies contribute all the salt necessary.

Makes 6 servings.


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