- 2 cups short-grain high starch rice (Arborio, Carnaroli, Valencia, Kokuho or comparable)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- ¼ cup pignolas (pine nuts)
- ½ bottle (750 ml.) brut Champagne or sparkling wine
- 1 quart chicken stock (fresh or canned), hot
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 4 tbsp. butter
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (preferably imported Parmigiano-Reggiano)
- ½ cup white seedless grapes, cut in half
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Toast the pignolas lightly in a dry pan over medium-high heat and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the finely chopped onion and minced garlic to the pan and sauté until translucent. Add the rice and sauté briefly (2-3 minutes) until the hard amylose starch center of the rice is visible. Add the champagne to the pan and cook until most of it is absorbed. Add enough of the chicken stock to just cover the rice and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is mostly absorbed.
Continue adding stock in increments until the rice has reached the desired consistency. Unlike regular white rice, the risotto should still have a center that is slightly firm (al dente) to your tongue; this does not mean that the rice should be undercooked and hard in the center.
When the rice is almost done, add the heavy cream and allow a creamy sauce to form. Remove pan from the heat, fold in the butter, Parmesan cheese, pignolas, and grapes and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Lighten to desired consistency if necessary with a little more chicken stock before serving.