Leftover Long-Grain Rice, Carolina Style

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Appears in

Seductions of Rice

By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Published 1998

  • About

In The Carolina Rice Cookbook, reproduced in facisimile in Karen Hess’s The Carolina Rice Kitchen, there’s a short recipe for reheating rice that tells us to “take any cold dinner rice and fry in butter until brown.” If you’re starting with an already flavored rice such as the Mexican rices or the pulaos in this chapter, then simply heating the rice briefly in oil or butter is one option.

But if the leftover rice you’re starting with is plain or minimally flavored, you will find this quick rice fry-up a pleasure. It uses the ingredients and flavors of traditional Carolina pulaos—bacon, onion, green pepper, and tomato—to transform leftover plain rice into an almost—pulao. This technique is especially appropriate for dry, fluffy long-grain rices such as Carolina, basmati, and Texmati, or for parboiled rices like rosematta, Louisiana pecan or popcorn, or parboiled brown rice. If you use butter or olive oil instead of bacon drippings, the flavor will be less smoky but the dish will still be successful.


  • 2 to 3 tablespoons bacon drippings (or substitute olive oil or butter)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 scallions, cut into ¼-inch lengths (optional)
  • ½ green bell pepper, cut into small dice
  • 1 to 2 fresh or canned medium tomatoes, chopped, with juices (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Generous grinding of black pepper
  • 3 cups cooked long-grain rice (see headnote)

Optional garnish

  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely torn
  • 2 fried eggs


Heat the bacon fat (or butter or oil) in a large heavy skillet or a large wok over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until well softened and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute. Add the bell pepper, stir well, and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the optional tomatoes, with their juices, and stir until completely blended in, then stir in the salt and black pepper.

Add the rice and stir and turn gently until the flavorings are well distributed and the rice is warmed through, about 1 minute, or longer if the rice has come straight from the refrigerator. Turn out onto two plates and serve, topped with flat-leaf parsley and the fried eggs if you wish. This is also good accompanied by a fresh green salad.