Brie Larson’s New Show Spotlights Forgotten American Recipes
Image Credit: Brie Larson in Lessons in Chemistry

Brie Larson's new show will make you skip takeouts and consider exploring two-pager recipes! The Oscar winner's new show Lessons in Chemistry, based on the novel of the same name by Bonnie Garmus, stars Larson as a chemist and a single mother named Elizabeth Zott who finds recognition for her feminist cooking show in 1960s America. 

The powerful eight-episode show focuses on a single mother who bucks the trend by using her cooking show as a vehicle for advocating social liberation and influencing women of her generation. Needless to say, the show also lines up quite a few recipes, prepared the old-school way. 

I had a discussion early on with the writers and we said, ‘Listen, Elizabeth Zott is a woman of her time. She’s a woman of the ’50s. But she’s also very much a woman ahead of her time. And so we want to make sure we see that in the food that she makes as well,’” said Courtney McBroom, who worked as a food consultant on the show. 

Although the '50s America conjures up images of oversized chiffon pies and nauseating jello-soaked recipes, the show does things differently, to connect to new-age audiences. McBroom reveals that the series focused on recipes that have been “made from scratch using only the freshest ingredients." 

The 12-layer lasagne recipe from the show is already impressing viewers with its detailing. Though the basics of making lasagne are still the same, this popular baked dish needed some extra prepping when it was made in the 50s or 60s, be it cooking the ricotta bechmel separately instead of using a store-bought pack, or the different kinds of meat. 

The recipe used in the show sticks to the authentic, longer version that was traditionally used in American kitchens, featuring homemade pasta and a well-cooked mirepoix. Interestingly, ricotta and mozzarella are typically used in Southern Italian lasagna recipes, whereas Northern Italian recipes will use bechamel and Parmigiano Reggiano, the latter being more popular in modern American kitchens. 

In one of the scenes in the show, Elizabeth explains to her colleague-turned-flame Calvin why her recipe for lasagne is perfect. "At about 92 degrees the solid milk fat and the cheese liquified and the bonds holding together the proteins break but the melt isn't smooth. Which is why I have been experimenting with sodium citrate so when the cheese heats, the protein separate from each other acting as emulsifiers," she tells him. 

The show which is a nod to Julia Child, also features recipes that the iconic chef had mastered, like the bananas Foster flambé, which is a pudding made by adding alcohol to the pan to set it aflame. Lessons in Chemistry also highlights some forgotten American dishes which faded into obscurity, most likely because of their longer prep time. 

For instance, the garden galette from the show, which is a savoury puff pastry made of mushrooms, leeks, herbs and goat cheese, needs a total preparation time of 170 minutes, whereas the Christmas chicken needs almost one and a half hours to cook and an overnight brine! So, if you have some spare time this weekend and don't mind spending a lot of it in the kitchen, maybe explore some of Zott's good ol' American recipes.