A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 04, 2008
Pistolette or Pistolet (French roll for Cajun sandwich)

A “pistolette” (the more frequent form, also spelled “pistolet") is a French roll, cited in English (in European contexts) since at least the 1850s. “Pistolettes” are Cajun sandwiches popular along the Gulf Coast, with the “pistolette” bread filled to create a “crawfish pistolette” or “shrimp pistolette” or “crab pistolette” or even an “alligator pistolette.”

A “pistolette” or “pistolet” perhaps once resembled a small pistol, but this is not necessarily so today. The New Orleans pistolette/pistolet is said to date to the 1920s, but is cited in print at least since 1976.

The long list of the names of sandwiches served on long rolls includes blimpie, bomber, Cuban (medianoche), Dagwood, garibaldi, gondola, grinder, hero, hoagie, Italian, jawbreaker, muffuletta, peacemaker (La Mediatrice), pilgrim, po’ boy (poor boy), rocket, skyscraper, spiedie, spucky (spuckie, spukie), submarine (sub), torpedo, torta (Mexican po’ boy), wedge and zeppelin (zep).


Real Cajun Recipes
Crawfish or Shrimp Pistolettes
Pistolettes are a football shaped brown ‘n serve bread rolls also known as French rolls. The inside of these rolls are carved out and replacing the cavity a delcious concoction of shrimp or crawfish wonderment. As my son says, there is nothing that taste better than 2 carbs together. This is it - !pistolette de ralentissements! for a small group. This crawfish/shrimp pistolettes recipe is the ONE that was prepared for the Maltrait Memorial School October Fete Bazaar in Kaplan, LA. The recipe is from MS Margaret David (Tissa’s Mom); reduced for smaller quantities. The original recipe was for 50 pounds of crawfish. Also you don’t have to fry them...baking works!!!
(Recipe follows—ed.)

Errol’s Cajun Foods, Inc.
Pistolettes
Crawfish Stuffed Pistolettes

Pistolettes stuffed with crawfish meat, seasoning, and select spices.
Shrimp Stuffed Pistolettes
Pistolettes stuffed with tender peeled shrimp, seasoning, and select spices.
Crab Stuffed Pistolettes
Pistolettes stuffed with claw crab meat, surimi, seasonings and select spices.

Cajun Grocer
BLANC’S Alligator Pistolettes
Description: Pistolettes are much like traditional French bread, but they are sized for individual servings. We stuff them with a delicious, savory Cajun Alligator filling! The flavor and texture of this stuffing is unique, and must be experienced! Bake or Fry them to a golden brown. (3.5 oz each)
BLANC’S Crab Pistolettes
BLANC’S Crawfish Pistolettes
BLANC’S Shrimp Pistolettes

(Oxford English Dictionary)
pistolet, n.1
A small bread roll, originally from Belgium.
1853 C. BRONTË Villette I. viii. 142 Boarders were..regaled with..pistolets au beurre (rolls) and coffee.
a1855 C. BRONTË Professor (1857) I. xiii. 224, I stirred my cup of coffee with a half-pistolet (we never had spoons).
a1896 G. DU MAURIER Martian (1897) 185 Breakfasted on a little roll called a pistolet, and a cup of coffee.
1975 T. ALLBEURY Special Collection xiv. 95 A basket was filled with bread, from poppy-seed rolls to..grey Minsk pistolets.
1993 Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Nexis) 20 Aug. B1 Chicken breast with fresh tarragon and more on pistolets, 9-grain breads or Foccaccia.

Dictionary of American Regional English
pistolet n Also Pistolette [Appar LaFr; cf OED2 pistolet sb. 2 “Esp. in Belgium, a small bread roll"] New Orleans LA
1983 Reinecke Coll. 9 LA, Pistolet..—a small crusty bread-roll, no longer shaped like a pistol. Smaller, but much like a frog. Word now commoner than it was, because distributed by major bakers.
1984 Stall Proud New Orleans 7, Since..the little short French roll looked something like a small pistol, the mini bread became known as a pistolette.
1986 Pederson LAGS Concordance, 1 inf, New Orleans LA, pistolette.
1997 DARE File sLA, I asked a Cajun friend more about pistolet. It is bread, as I said, though she thought smaller than a goose egg, but they do stuff them. Interesting a major ingredient is cabbage and inside that shrimp, crawfish, ground beef, whatever is around.

1 December 1976, Baytown (TX) Sun, pg. 10A, col. 2:
Oyster Loaf sandwich is one of New Orleans earliest and best foods. The city of New Orleans was laid out in 1721 by Bienville. He taught early colonists how to cook so that they would be well fed and happy while working. One of the first foods they learned to prepare were oyster loaves.

The 6 or 7-inch long original recipe calls for pistolet or French roll to be sliced lengthwise.

30 November 1989, Baton Rouge (LA) , “Trianon’s signature recipes”:
Completing the feast will be garlic roasted potatoes, French bread pistolettes and, for dessert, French Pastries. The meal will be prepared by award-winning ...

HighBeam Research
Mardi Gras promotion lifts Winn-Dixie division’s sales. (Louisiana division)
From: Supermarket News
Date: March 30, 1992
Author: Lenius, Pat Natschke
NEW ORLEANS—The Louisiana division of Winn-Dixie increased both bakery and deli sales by about 20% with a two-week promotion that capitalized on this city’s annual Mardi Gras festivities.

Sales of traditional king cakes were up 25%, sugar ring doughnuts were up 15% and finger sandwiches, sold packed in a box or on a party platter, were up about 15% over last year, said Douglas Carlos, division deli merchandiser.

Sales of Vienna rolls, which are merchandised under the French name, pistolettes, were up about 35% over normal weekly movement, he said.

Google Groups: rec.food.restaurants
Newsgroups: rec.food.restaurants
From: (Donald R. Newcomb)
Date: 15 May 1993 03:38:25 GMT
Local: Fri, May 14 1993 11:38 pm
Subject: Re: New Orleans, Meridean, Biloxi

Amelia’s Po Boys: 1 block off Hwy 90. Amelia is a Boston refugee who is fortunate that beach dwellers love eccentrics. She has decorated her restaurant in a combination of nautical, Mardi Gras, and flamingo (the bird) motifs. You can get a great New Orleans style Po Boy or North End Boston Sub. She has a variety of Italian dishes and daily specials. Our favorites are the Shrimp Pistolettes and the Shrimp Stuffed Artichokes. A live combo plays oldies (’40s & ‘50s) on Thurs-Sat nights. $5-$20/person, BYOB. 

Google Groups: rec.food.cooking
Newsgroups: rec.food.cooking
From: (Alvin Givens)
Date: 1995/05/11
Subject: Re: Cajun food Louisana style

When in Lafayette, try to get to Mulate’s in Hendereson, or any of the Cajun restaurants on the levee in Breaux Bridge.  Henderson and Breaux Bridge are adjacent to Lafayette on I-10, no more than a 5 mile drive.  The Crawfish festival is held at Breaux Bridge every year and is *well* attended.

Mulate’s is famous for its food and live cajun music every night, many celebrities have visited there.  And you know, most foods served are not hot until you generously sprinkle “Lousiana Gold Hot Sauce” on it (mmmm!).  I love “pistolettes” (rolls filled with an etoufee), stuffed Blue Crab or soft-shell cabs, dirty rice (rice cooked with chicken innerds and boudin), boudin (rice & pork sausage, pronounced “BOO-dan"), crawfish pie (crawfish etoufee in small pie crust, crawfish pot-pie), andouille sausage and, of course, boiled crawfish. 

28 July 1995, Baton Rouge (LA) , “Highland House dining is rewarding experience”:
Three pistolettes (aka scooped-out sections of French bread) were filled with a moderately spicy dressing that was thick with crawfish.

Cajun Stuffed Pistolettes - New Orleans- Chowhound
Cajun Stuffed Pistolettes
Where can I find Cajun stuffed pistolettes - the kind with crawfish or shrimp and cheese, etc.?

Also, does anyone know where or when they originated?
Thanks.
Becky Jul 25, 2002 04:50PM
(...)
Pistolettes are a small, oval French rolls about 4 inches long. Stuffed pistolettes are a Cajun specialty dating from the 1920s from what I’m told. The unbaked pistolettes are deep fried, then filled with wonderful fillings such as crawfish, shrimp, crab, etc. If you go to google.com and search under stuffed pistolettes, you’ll see a couple of pics and recipes. I have made the recipe from the outofthefryingpan site, and it’s fabulous! I think you could loosely compare them to stuffed bread which is also popular in Southern LA.
Becky Jul 30, 2002 10:07AM
(...)
The Cajun Stuffed Pistolettes are made by Cajun Original Foods, Inc., in New Iberia, LA. is their email address. They have Crawfish, Crab, Shrimp, Alligator, Beef-n-Cheese w/Jalapeno, and Eggs-n-Sausage, w/cheese pistolettes. I hear that soon they will bring out a Boudin-Stuffed Pistolette! The pistolettes are good fried, but I prefer them baked, since their dough is a french bread type dough, and it is nice and crispy, without all of the oil you get from frying.
Uncle Higgy Jan 06, 2008 01:44PM

Austin (TX) Chronicle (February 4, 2005)
If you’re still contemplating where to celebrate Mardi Gras on Tuesday, Feb. 8, how about Evangeline Cafe (8106 Brodie Ln. #110, 282-2586)? Owner Curtis Clarke’s folks are bringing authentic king cakes from Louisiana, and Clarke has several new mouth-watering menu items that are sure to please. The new Oysters Contraband (homemade potato chips topped with spicy house remoulade and plump fried gulf oysters) are so good they should probably be illegal, and the decadent little Praline Pistolettes (fried bread balls filled with pecan praline served in a pool of caramel sauce) could easily become an addiction. The celebration will include live music and plenty of beads. 

Regional American Recipes - The Cutting Board
cajuns
Posted: 12 September 2005 07:24 pm

Cajun Pistolettes
1 stick butter.
1 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 Tbsp. green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 lb. Velveeta, cubed
2 lbs. cooked crawfish meat, shrimp and/or crabmeat
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
20 pistolettes (football-shaped brown ‘n’ serve rolls)
vegetable oil or shortening for frying

Sauté onions, bell pepper, celery, green onions and garlic in butter over medium heat until translucent.
Add evaporated milk, Velveteeta, water, seafood and seasoning. Cook on low until just heated through. Cover and keep warm.
Fill a deep frying pan with vegetable oil about halfway. Heat oil. Fry pistolettes until they are browned, turning if necessary.
While still hot, holding fried pistolette in a potholder, make a slit in one end. Stick a spoon inside and twirl it around to make some room inside the roll.
Using a spoon, stuff with seafood mixture. Eat immediately.

Gambit Weekly - Best of New Orleans (October 24, 2006)
While the bustle of Maple Street doesn’t exactly feel like life down on the bayou, sample the specialties at Uptown Cajun (7708 Maple St., 304-7256; http://www.uptowncajun.com) and you’ll be transported straight to Acadiana.

Chef Josh Abualjadai created a menu that includes several types of boudin, including frog-leg and alligator; jambalaya made with both roasted and ground pork; and his own recipe for a seafood bisque made with crabmeat, crawfish, potatoes and corn. The pistolettes are stuffed with seafood and various types of cheese. Another popular choice is the Uptown shrimp po-boy, dressed with melted pepper jack cheese.

Gambit Weekly - Best of New Orleans (October 24, 2007)
T.L. STARKE’S SPORTS BAR & GRILLE
3535 Severn Ave., Metairie, 888-5858
Burgers fly out of the kitchen at this casual bar and grill, where the décor features a vintage aviation theme. Burgers are made with half-pound, hand-formed patties and served with a choice of loaded baked potato or baked sweet potato with cinnamon butter. Start off with the Acadiana pistolettes, a pair of loaves stuffed with crabmeat and served with remoulade sauce. 

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Sunday, May 04, 2008 • Permalink