Also known as Jerusalem artichokes, sunchokes impart a subtle taste not unlike their namesake's to this creamy, golden risotto. Even when thoroughly cooked, sunchokes provide a bit of fresh-tasting crunchiness to any recipe. This classic risotto, distinguished by the use of sparkling wine in place of still, which delivers a delicate twist on the palate, makes a fine first course or a light main course.
Arborio rice is a short-grained Italian rice named for the town where it is grown. Blessed with a high starch content, it is particularly creamy and chewy — two characteristics that make it an ideal flavor vector. Arborio rice is widely available in specialty-food shops and most fine supermarkets.
You'll have more than a half-bottle of bubbly left over after cooking, so keep the rest chilled for drinking. — Jeff Morgan
Adapted from "Domaine Chandon" by Jeff Morgan.
In a large sauté or frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sunchokes, stir to coat evenly with the butter and sauté until they begin to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent burning. Add the cream and stir until it begins to simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sunchokes are tender and easily pierced with a fork, 30-35 minutes.
Transfer the creamed sunchokes to a blender or food processor, working in batches if necessary, and process to a very smooth puree. You should have about 2 cups/455 grams sunchoke puree. Set aside.
In a large, deep sauté pan or a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice, and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the grains are evenly cooked with the oil, 2-3 minutes. Add ½ cup/120 milliliters of the stock and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Continue the process in ½-cup additions, alternating the stock and the wine, until all the wine has been absorbed. Add the remaining stock, still ½ cup at a time, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender but still slightly firm at the center of each grain, about 30 minutes total. Add a little more stock to finish cooking the rice, if needed.
Add the sunchoke puree and Parmesan to the rice and stir to mix thoroughly. Cook, stirring until the cheese melts and the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chives. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the risotto among warmed plates; serve at once.