Makes 40 oranges or rice balls

This recipe originated in the kitchen of TRG photographer Adam Wilde’s great-grandmother, Mella Bonina (Papa’s mom).

Rice Mixture:

  • 1 pound rice, cooked, until all water is absorbed and rice is fully cooked
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 4 or 5 beaten egg yolks (reserve egg whites for topping)
  • ½ pound grated Romano, Reggiano, or Pecorino cheese


  • 2 minced onions
  • 1½ pounds ground chuck
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • ¾ cup pine nuts
  • ¾ cup currants
  • 2 cups peas
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch of salt and pepper


  • Beaten egg whites
  • 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs or breadcrumbs with panko (panko will yield a more golden and crispy crust)

Set cooked rice aside, about 1 hour. Add butter, eggs, and cheese. Stir over low to medium heat until mixed together. Consistency should be sticky, and cheese should be stringy. Set aside to cool. To make the filling, sauté onions and ground chuck over medium to medium-high heat. Add other ingredients. Scoop a small portion of the rice mixture into your hands, and form a patty. Place a dollop of the filling in the middle. Top with another same-sized rice patty. Make sure the rice ball encloses the mixture. Roll each ball into the egg whites and then into bread crumbs. In a Dutch oven or heavy pot, deep fry in peanut oil at 350° about 2–3 minutes, or until golden brown. Place on paper towel-lined cookie sheet. Eat immediately.

This is a great recipe to make when you have about 2-3 hours. Don’t let this recipe scare you. It’s a fun project . . . and very worth it on all levels!  —XXOO, Mom