I Tried Brie Larson’s “Superior Lasagna” from “Lessons in Chemistry” and the Bolognese Sauce Is So Worth It
Lasagna has always been that dish for me. It’s an absolute staple in my home, and my mother would always make variations of it while I was growing up. Lasagna has the ability to not only give me comfort when I need it most, but it also reminds me of the simple pleasures in life. The older I get, somehow this delicious layered pasta dish never gets old with me, and I get just as excited as I was as a child when a slice is put on my plate.
That being said, not everyone knows how to make a lasagna that stands the test of time. Some lasagnas are lacking in the flavor department, and others miss the mark on the overall structure to get that perfectly layered slice. All parts of the recipe need to be working in unison, so when one ingredient is off, it can affect the rest of the dish. So when I came across Brie Larson’s recipe for the ‘Superior’ Lasagna from her hit AppleTV+ show, Lessons in Chemistry, I couldn’t help but see if the lasagna lived up to the hype.
Knowing that the Captain Marvel star actually has real-life kitchen skills that she was able to adapt for her role in Lessons in Chemistry made this recipe even more appealing to me. I was excited to get started, as I was long overdue for making the comforting pasta dish I love. Here’s how it went.
Get the recipe: The Perfect Lasagna from Lessons in Chemistry
How to Make Brie Larson’s Lasagna
Lasagna is no cake walk; there are multiple steps that need to be done precisely in order to have a beautiful and delicious end product. That being said, this recipe is pretty in-depth, but I promise that the outcome is more than worth the cost of labor.
Starting with the Bolognese, heat olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the finely chopped carrot, celery, and onion. Sauté until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. Season with salt, add garlic and chili flakes, then cook for an additional minute. Add tomato paste and cook down until the paste coats the bottom of the pan and turns a deep brick red, about 3 minutes.
Add ground beef, ground pork, and pancetta to the vegetable mixture, cooking until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Season with salt as it cooks and use a wooden spoon or spatula to break the meat into small bits. Stir in the milk and wine and bring to a simmer before adding oregano, reducing the heat to low, and covering to let simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally until ready to remove from heat. Finally, skim off most of the fat and season with more salt if needed.
While the Bolognese simmers, start on the ricotta béchamel. Melt butter in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat for 1 minute to thicken. Stir in salt and nutmeg and remove the pot from the heat. Let it cool for 15 minutes, then stir in the ricotta cheese, seasoning with more salt if needed.
Boil the lasagna noodles in a large pot of heavily salted water to just under al dente. As the lasagna cooks, preheat your oven to 375°F and brush a 9×13-inch pan with olive oil. When ready, drain the noodles and slick them with olive oil to help prevent sticking.
Now you are ready to assemble. Spread 3/4 cup of the ricotta béchamel on the bottom of your prepared pan and top with a layer of noodles, careful not to overlap. Spread another 3/4 cup of béchamel on top of the noodles, then spread 1/4 of the Bolognese (about 1 1/4 cups) on top. Top with a healthy dusting of Parmesan cheese (1/3 cup) then add another layer of noodles on top of that. Repeat this layering process four more times, resulting in five layers of pasta. By the fourth layer, you should be using the last of the Bolognese. The top final layer of noodles will have the remaining béchamel spread over it, as well as the remaining Parmesan and all of the mozzarella cheese.
Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce bubbles up on the sides and the top is perfectly browned. Once removed from the oven, let the dish cool for 15 minutes then sprinkle the chopped parsley on, slice, and enjoy!
My Honest Opinion of Brie Larson’s Lasagna
Truthfully, I went into this recipe with very high expectations that only Captain Marvel herself could live up to. Anytime I have lasagna, I am fully comparing it to what my mother used to make when I was growing up, so no lasagna recipe is safe from the wrath of my core childhood memories. Thankfully Brie Larson’s recipe absolutely delivered in the best ways possible. I loved that the recipe called for five layers, each packing its own punch of delicious flavors, and the three-meat combination was a nice touch that I myself had never used together before.
I will certainly be keeping this recipe in my rotation, and I honestly do not plan on making lasagna without a Bolognese ever again. This is truly the best way to make it and I couldn’t have been more satisfied with each fantastic bite. Now it’s time to heat up some more leftovers and flick on an episode of Lessons in Chemistry.
3 Tips for Making Brie Larson’s Lasagna
- Distribute the lasagna sheets evenly. Most conventional dried lasagna noodle packages have enough noodles to create four layers of four noodles. If your package is running a little slim, use a knife or kitchen shears to cut three of the noodles in half, using the halves in lieu of a full sheet. This will give each layer three-and-a-half noodles instead of four and allow you to reach the coveted fifth layer.
- Omit items that are not your jam. If some of the ingredients don’t sit well with you, feel free to use your preferred alternatives or omit all together. At its core, lasagna doesn’t need meat, so this could also be prepared as a vegetable lasagna. Additionally, you can make the Bolognese using just ground beef if pork or pancetta do not appeal to you.
- Know how to boil lasagna noodles without breaking them. If your pots aren’t large enough to submerge a whole pack of lasagna noodles underwater, a large skillet with high-enough walls will also do the trick. Boiling the noodles until al dente only takes about 8 to 10 minutes, so using less water in a shallower setting can actually still yield excellent results while not running the risk of bending or breaking the noodles.
Get the recipe: The Perfect Lasagna from Lessons in Chemistry