SERVES 4 – 6
This dish may have been named for an ascetic 19th-century religious zealot who enjoyed it on the sly.
20 sprat filets (2 3.5-oz. cans)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 tbsp. butter
3 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced
6 medium boiling potatoes, peeled
2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
2 tbsp. fine bread crumbs
1 cup heavy cream
1. Drain sprats, reserving about 1⁄4 cup of the liquid. Dry filets thoroughly between paper towels.
2. Heat oil and 2 tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool.
3. Preheat oven to 400°. Cut potatoes into lengths about 3" × 3⁄4". Do not rinse. Arrange about one-quarter of the potatoes in a buttered medium baking dish. Cover with one-third of the onions and one-third of the sprats. Season with pepper, then repeat process twice more, finishing with a layer of potatoes. Sprinkle top with bread crumbs, then dot with remaining 2 tbsp. butter.
4. Warm cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add reserved sprat liquid, then pour over potatoes. Transfer to oven and bake until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 1 hour. Serve warm.
Variation—Christer Larsson, chef-owner of Christer's restaurant in Manhattan, suggests making this dish with sautéed potatoes for a change of pace. Begin as in step 1 above, then cut the potatoes as in step 3 above. Sauté potatoes in oil over medium-high heat until golden, about 15 minutes. Assemble and bake as in steps 3 and 4 above.