My Rouses Everyday, May & June 2018
I couldn’t have been more than five years old when I was sent on my tricycle to Mr. Jack’s Bakery, a two-story structure that occupied a corner at Main and Bridge in St. Martinville.
Mama instructed me to purchase four doughnuts for my siblings and myself, and two pistolettes for Papa. The coins for the purchases were in a small purse she put in the basket of my bike. I set out on the two-block jaunt with an air of importance. Of course, I had been to Mr. Jack’s often, accompanied by Mama or Papa, but this was the first time I went on my own.
Mr. Jack, a tall, slender gentleman, greeted me at the door dressed in a starched white shirt, colorful bow tie and seersucker pants. I knew from early-morning visits before 6:30 Mass that Mr. Jack began his daily baking (in a huge brick oven) in the wee hours of the morning, swathed in starched white chef coat and pants. After the doughnuts, breads, rolls and pastries were done and brought in to display in the glass-fronted cabinets, he changed to business attire.
I gave him Mama’s order and while he filled it, I inhaled the aromas of freshly baked cinnamon rolls, French bread and my favorite — chocolate fudge cakes dusted with powdered sugar.
Back at home, I watched Papa spread softened butter on the still-warm, slightly crusty pistolettes that he drizzled with Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup. He explained that these hand-size breads were made with leftover dough from Mr. Jack’s famous French bread. Mama sometimes made fried ham sandwiches for our Saturday lunches with the pistolettes, and I remembered it being such a treat.
As I skipped along my culinary journey, I was introduced (years later) to stuffed breads at the New Orleans Jazz Fest. I remember thinking that the bread resembled the pistolettes of my childhood. Stuffing them with crawfish, shrimp and sausage mixtures was really gilding the lily, and these delicious stuffed breads — or stuffed pistolettes — are now a mainstay at the annual popular music festival. They also show up at other Gulf Coast festivals and small-town eateries. Some are in the shape of a small baguette, while others look like dinner rolls, and there are some that are merely large slices of French bread loaded with the ubiquitous seafood or sausage and cheese stuffings. And yes, some are fried (oh my goodness) while others are baked. I lean toward the baked.
Now that we are in a warm-weather mode, with longer days and time for summer outings, you might consider going in search of this delicacy by embarking on a pistolette (stuffed bread) “trail.” My “foodie” scouts have given me some suggestions, which I happily pass on to you
“The stuffed pistolette is a great example of how Cajun cooks guild the lily. Take the best french bread, stuff it with the best seafood, and deep fry until golden brown just for good measure.”
—Chef Collin Cormier,
Pop’s Po-Boys and Central Pizza, Lafayette
Poupart’s Bakery 1902 West Pinhook Rd., Lafayette, LA
The Crawfish Étouffée Pistolettes sold at Festivals Acadiens and Festival International come from this Lafayette landmark.
Creole Lunch House 713 12th St., Lafayette, LA
Creole Lunch House’s fresh-baked, fist-sized rolls, loaded with crawfish and gooey cheese, are also a favorite at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Rabideaux’s World Famous Sausage Kitchen 105 US-165, Iowa, LA
Here, you’ll find dinner rolls stuffed with shrimp or crawfish étouffée and fried golden brown.
Steamboat Bill’s 1004 North Lakeshore Dr., Lake Charles, LA
(Additional locations in Lake Charles, DeRidder and Alexandria, LA and Pearland, TX)
A favorite appetizer is the fried pistolette roll, split and stuffed with either shrimp or crawfish.
The Boiling Point 1730 Beglis Pkwy., Sulphur, LA
The soft fried roll found here is stuffed with a cheesy seafood filling.
T-Boo’s Sweet Shop 24572 Hwy. 190, Krotz Springs, LA
The fried pistolettes at T-Boo’s are stuffed with crawfish with cheese. T-Boo’s also makes stuffed sausage and crawfish breads.
Billy’s Mini Mart 24467 US-190, Krotz Springs, LA
Billy’s serves crawfish pistolettes.
The Original Pierre Maspero’s 440 Chartres St., New Orleans, LA
The renowned Maspero’s serves up two golden French rolls (or pistolettes) filled with a creamy cheese sauce and Gulf shrimp, bell peppers and onions and topped with Parmesan cheese.
Fish River Grill 1545 Gulf Shores Pkwy., Gulf Shores, AL
(More locations in Foley and Fairhope)
If you liked the Cajun Pistol at Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores, this is one spot to get your fix. Fish River’s Cajun Pistol looks like a pistolette version of New Orleans crawfish bread. Also try the Swamp Soup, which is made with beans and greens.
Little New Orleans 25241 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL
The French rolls, stuffed with shrimp or crawfish cheese sauce, are a specialty.
If you want to try your hand at making your very own stuffed bread, here are a couple of recipes so you can start experimenting!