This dish is brought to us by chef Tom Armstrong at Vinnie’s Steakhouse and Tavern on Six Forks Road in Raleigh.


½ lb Fresh Tilefish, cut into 4 6-oz portions
Olive oil for sautéing
Salt and white pepper for seasoning
Cheesecloth for straining

For the seasoned cornmeal

1 Cup Cornmeal
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 tbsp Salt
1 tsp White Pepper
½ tsp Dry Thyme
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper

For the ratatouille

1 Rosa Bianca Eggplant (Wild Onion Farms)
1 Zucchini
1 Yellow Squash
1 Red Pepper
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Sweet Onion
6 cloves of Garlic
1 tsp Dry Thyme
½ pint Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, halved
½ pint Bing Cherry Tomatoes, halved
½ Cup Dry White Wine
2 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
¼ Cup Fresh Basil and Oregano, chopped

For the polenta

1 Cup Cornmeal
1 ½ Cup Chicken Stock
1 ½ Cup Whole Milk
¼ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

For the tomato broth

2 lb of the ripest Heirloom Tomatoes, trimmed and chopped
A pinch of sugar
¼ Cup Dry Sherry
2 tbsp Sherry Vinegar
1 tsp fresh Lemon Juice


For the tomato broth

This should be done a day in advance.

Line a kitchen strainer with cheesecloth.

Puree heirloom tomatoes with a pinch of salt, pepper sugar until smooth. Pour into strainer and strain overnight.

Add this tomato juice to a non-reactive, non-aluminum pan along with the dry sherry and sherry vinegar. Skim away any particles that float to the top.

Reduce by 1/3, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and finish with Fresh Lemon Juice.

Set aside.


For the ratatouille

The flavors really come together if you can make this a day in advance, as well.

Dice all of your ratatouille vegetables in a medium dice and saute each vegetable separately over medium high heat, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper.

In a large pot over medium heat, sauté garlic until fragrant then add dry thyme, all sautéed vegetables and sungold and bing cherry tomatoes. Cook until juices of tomatoes start to come out and add white wine.

Continue cooking until most, but not all of the liquid has evaporated.

Adjust seasoning to taste and finish with fresh lemon juice, fresh basil, and oregano.


For the polenta

Start this right before you’re ready to cook the fish. It takes about 30 minutes.

Add chicken stock and whole milk to a medium sauce pot. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

When the liquid comes to a simmer, slowly whisk in cornmeal, trying to avoid lumps.

Once polenta is smooth, turn heat down to low and whisk every few minutes. You may need to add an extra tablespoon or two of chicken stock or water if the polenta gets too thick.

After about 30 minutes, check for seasoning and doneness of cornmeal. It should be smooth, not gritty or lumpy.

Whisk in parmesan cheese and adjust seasoning to taste.


For the fish

Start this when your polenta is almost done. This is a good time to start warming up your ratatouille and tomato broth, also.

Rinse the Tilefish under cold water, removing any scales. Pat dry with a paper towel.

Season the Tilefish fillets lightly with salt and white pepper.

Dredge in the seasoned cornmeal and add to a sauté pan over medium-high heat with olive oil. Cook on first side until golden brown, about three minutes, turn and repeat on other side. Depending on the thickness of the fillets, you may need to turn the heat down so the outside doesn’t get too dark before the inside is done. The fish is done when it feels firm to the touch but is still very moist.


How to serve

I like to serve this is a large bowl so all the juices from the fish and vegetables combine with the broth to make an incredible sauce. Arrange polenta, ratatouille and Tilefish in the bowl however you like and pour the warmed heirloom tomato broth over. Enjoy.