Leftover Rice, Leftover Beans Part II: Cheesy Rice and Carrot Omelet

Breakfast: cheesy rice and carrot omelet.


½ cup pre-cooked rice
2 T butter, divided
1 T flour
½ cup milk
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese
Pinch of garlic powder
1 t Dijon, or to taste
2 eggs
Salt and pepper, optional

Leftover rice was the only pre-made option sitting in the fridge when I went to find breakfast the other morning.  And I felt like having an eating-leftovers kind of morning: these feed me quickly, but still require some kind of creative finagling to bring my ingredients into a meal.  One of my favorite ways to do a leftovers-breakfast is with an omelet or egg bake.  (The three or four days after Thanksgiving I layered all my favorite feast foods into a ramekin and poured some whisked eggs and milk on top.  Baked at 350 for half an hour or so: eggy, flavorful, nostalgic bliss. Add mustard if you like.)   This morning, however, half an hour of wait time wasn’t going to cut it.  I can be a hungry woman.

So an omelet it was.  The faster an omelet cooks, the more tender it will be (unlike in an egg bake where fast cooking=raw or chewy egg).  I like a good bit of cheese in my omelets, and thought a good casserole-like flavor to the rice would add interest to the fleecy white grains.  Cheese sauce has a rounder flavor and creamier texture than straight-up melted cheese does, so I whisked up a roux using 1 T butter and 1 T flour, poured in about ½ cup milk, grated my ½ cup sharp cheddar and stirred until it all became that gorgeous tangerine orange that’s better than a sunrise.  This reminded me that I had a leftover carrot stick in the fridge, too, so I grated that up on the side.  To the cheese sauce I added a bit of garlic powder and Dijon mustard for depth.  When this was all stirred up and tasty, I folded in my ½ cup leftover rice.  This can sit over low heat while you make your omelet.

Notes on cheese sauce:

Whisk the roux for longer than you normally do.  Courtesy of Bon Appetit magazine, I’ve taken to whisking my roux until the flour and butter are not only combined but toasted, which only takes a few minutes.  The roux will fluff up and become bubbly and light instead of lying like depressed marbles on the bottom of the pan.

I like to leave my jug of milk out at room temperature while I’m working, or pour out the amount I need and let it sit so when I add the milk the sauce doesn’t go from cooking to cold.

Now egg time.  Alton Brown has a divine piece on the Food Network Magazine you can find here:


It’s about how to cook any egg perfectly, with specific instructions and methods that have become my new favorites.

I find his omelet-making to be helpful and interesting, but also dirtying more dishes than I like.  Here’s what I do using him as inspiration.

  1. Whisk the eggs with a fork for a very short period of time.  As Mr. Brown points out, the more air you have in your eggs the longer the omelet will take to cook.
  2. Heat the pan for a while over medium to medium-high heat; add a pretty pat of butter, about 1 T; when the butter froths, pour in the eggs.
  3. Let the eggs sit in the pan for a half-minute to a minute.  I like to see the slightest bit of a “set” along the outer edges of the pan before touching them.  Then move your spatula back and forth across the pan like you’re making waves, not splashes, in the eggs, ensuring to scrape the bottom and sides evenly.*
  4. Once the curds start to materialize, stop making waves.  Use your spatula to lift up the edges of the egg with one hand and with the other hand, tilt the pan so any loose egg dribbles toward the newly open pan space.  Do this all along the edges until no more raw egg can move freely.  I get a little rambunctious with this move to the point of digging in my spatula from the edge to the middle of the pan; your omelet should remain intact with no cracks, and this way your omelet won’t stick to the pan when you try to fold it.  Using a high heat from the very beginning helps with this move.  If you add salt and pepper to your eggs, here’s where you should do it.  Cooks should season every layer of a dish for maximum flavor, but I don’t tend to like pepper, and I try to not add salt unless the food really needs it, so I skipped this.
  5. Add in your ingredients.  Some people add them down the middle, some people prefer one-sided ingredient layering, but I just go for it.  Here I poured my cheesy rice casserole mix over the whole dang thing, leaving an inch around the edges, and sprinkled my grated carrot over top.
  6. Wait until your omelet hits the plate to fold it…or do it right in the pan.  I haven’t been able to find a difference in technique that makes a real difference in the food.  Personally, I get impatient to fold, so I do it in the pan, and I use the half-fold over the tri-fold.  That may be due to the giant mass of fillings I tend to put in my omelets.  I don’t think a tri-fold could hold all the cheesy, vegetal goodness I stuff into my breakfasts.  To make the fold, ease your spatula deeply into the omelet, about halfway, then bring the spatula up and over the other half. Boom.  Omelet folded.  Shuffle it onto your plate.

There! Perfect omelet.  Also, cheesy rice for awesomeness and carrot for texture, color, and health.  The Dijon really stepped up its game in this dish; do use it if you have it.

The omelet was overall a soft, fragile egg wrap stuffed with great flavor and a fun texture.  The rice was fluffy and warm, the carrot crunchy without being hard.  I’ll make it again next time I have leftover rice.

What are your favorite omelet ingredients?

Is there a dish that uses leftovers with which you’ve had particular success?

*Alton Brown’s method involves a few other steps and a few differences in egg-moving technique from what I do.  The move I quite honestly don’t understand is when he says to hold the spatula in place while moving the pan around in order to stir the eggs.  How do you move your wrist that way?  What’s the benefit of that versus standard spatula-moving?  Anybody have any ideas?

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