Food & wine

Mark Diacono’s recipe for Jansson’s Temptation

Gardener, cook and author Mark Diacono of Otter’s Farm and River Cottage shares his take on this Swedish staple to bring cheer to your table when the temperature drops.

Jansson's Temptation

You could give me this wonderful Swedish potato dish every day for a week and I’d not complain. Variations are many – I often make this with celeriac, or all dairy rather than part stock, or leave out the breadcrumbs if I can’t be bothered – and this is my current favourite way. Leave out the anchovies and add a tablespoon of pokey mustard for a differently delicious vegetarian version. The spices are all widely used in Scandinavia and come together beautifully. It isn’t critical that the pepper is white, but I like it that way. This makes as good a main with dark, irony brassicas or sprouting broccoli as it does a side to roast lamb or stews.


  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • ½ tsp dill seeds
  • ½ tsp anise seeds
  • ½ tsp celery seeds
  • ½ tsp white peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 anchovy fillets, plus a little of their oil
  • 3 medium onions, very thinly sliced
  • 800g (1lb 12oz) potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 200ml (7fl oz) chicken or vegetable stock
  • Pinch of ground white pepper
  • 150ml (5fl oz) double cream
  • 60g (2¼oz) breadcrumbs


Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/400°F/gas mark 6.

  1. Toast the spices in a dry pan until fragrant, shaking the pan to prevent burning. Reduce to a powder in a spice grinder or with a pestle and mortar.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, ovenproof frying pan over a low–medium heat. Add a tablespoon of the anchovy oil and then the onions and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft. Remove the onions from the pan.
  3. Add layers of potato to the pan up to halfway. Carefully pour in the stock. Spread the onions evenly on top and dot with the anchovies. Season with a pinch of white pepper, then add the remaining potato in layers, followed by the cream. Press the potatoes into the creamy stock.
  4. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, pressing the potatoes into the liquid a couple of times. Remove from the oven. Scatter with the spice mix, then the breadcrumbs. Add a little milk to top up if needed. Reduce the oven temperature to 200°C /180°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4 and bake for another 30–40 minutes until the top is golden and the potatoes cooked.

Wine Recommendations:

This sort of comfort cooking is also relatively easy to partner with wine, both red and white would work equally well. The anchovies are the only ingredient that could present a potential challenge but shouldn’t cause too many issues in these quantities. Opt for reds that are big on fresh red-fruit flavour such as those made from the gamay or pinot noir grape or a perky Italian red like Bardolino or its neighbour Valpolicella. On the white front, think rich and creamy to mirror this aspect of the dish – grenache blanc or a Cape blend would work, as would full-bodied chardonnay, alternatively pick whites with zip and a touch of spice – grüner veltliner, Alsace pinot blanc or an edelzwicker would be great as would reliable all-rounder verdicchio.

>Discover our wines selected to go with this dish

>Mark Diacono’s recipe for chilindrón stew

Mark Diacono

Guest writer

Mark Diacono

Mark spends most of his time eating, growing, writing and talking about food. He is an award-winning author of several books on cooking and gardening, including, A Year at Otter Farm and River Cottage Veg Patch.

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