The recipe in this news item is mentioned in People & Places (page 8) of the July 2009 issue of Chef Magazine.

Top emerging chefs from Napa and Sonoma battled one another May 30 in the debut of the Napa vs. Sonoma American Lamb Throwdown, held during the fourth annual Carneros Heritage Festival, a celebration of the region's food and wine. The head-to-head contest featured American lamb along with local wine pairings.

Chef Ryan Pollnow (pictured, left) from La Crema Winery in Sonoma took home top honors with his dish, Leg of Lamb Grilled Over Pinot Noir Barrel Chips with Green Garlic Chimichurri (recipe below). Pollnow paired the smoked American lamb with springtime Argentinean chimichurri and complex yet smooth local wine, La Crema 2007 Los Carneros Pinot Noir.

Chefs from Shiso, Zazu Restaurant + Farm, Stark's and Mondo represented Sonoma while Napa was represented by chefs from Fatted Calf, Hog Island, Oxbow Wine Merchant, Zuzu and The Border. The festival partnered the Carneros Wine Alliance with the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission and was hosted by the Donum Estate and Buena Vista Carneros. All proceeds went to the Carneros Land Stewardship dedicated to the conservation and preservation of habitat and wetlands in the San Pablo Bay adjacent to the Carneros region.

Leg of Lamb Grilled Over Pinot Noir Barrel Chips with Green Garlic Chimichurri
Chef Ryan Pollnow, La Crema Winery, Healdsburg, Calif.

Yield: 8-10 servings

1 American lamb leg, boned and tied
Green Garlic Chimichurri (recipe follows)
2 c. Pinot Noir barrel chips (or other hard wood), soaked in water for 30 min.

Method (1) Marinate the lamb leg in 1 c. of Green Garlic Chimichurri overnight in the refrigerator. (2) Preheat grill for indirect cooking at a medium temperature. (3) Loosely wrap the soaked wood chips in aluminum foil and poke several holes in the foil. Place the packed directly onto the grill heat source. The wood chips should start to smoke within a couple of minutes. (4) Position the lamb leg on the grill for indirect cooking. Turn every 20 minutes and baste with the remaining Green Garlic Chimichurri. Maintain grill temperature at 280° to 300°F. Cook to an internal temperature of approximately 140°F or desired degree of doneness. Loosely cover with foil and allow lamb to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Pair with La Crema 2007 Los Carneros Pinot Noir.

Green Garlic Chimichurri
4 stalks green garlic (spring garlic), sliced into 1/4" rounds
2 lemons
2 bunches parsley
1 bunch chives
1 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. smoked sweet paprika
1 T. ground cumin
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. red verjus
1 T. sugar
3 shallots, minced
1/4 c. dried oregano
Kosher salt, to taste

Method (1) Blanch sliced green garlic in salted boiling water for 1 minute, and shock in ice water. (2) Zest and juice the lemons into a blender, along with the cooked garlic and the parsley, chives, extra virgin olive oil, smoked sweet paprika, ground cumin, red wine vinegar, red verjus and sugar. Pulse until well-combined. Pour into a bowl. (3) Stir in shallots and dried oregano by hand, and season with salt. Reserve at room temperature to serve, or refrigerate for up to 1 week.