In a large skillet, heat bacon drippings. Add onion; cook over medium-low heat without stirring for 5 minutes. Add the sweet pepper, jalapeño, garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until soft but not browned.
Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir in stock; bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste carefully for seasoning (broth should be highly seasoned to flavor the rice).
In a heavy, wide-bottom nonreactive pot or heavy 12-inch skillet heat butter over medium heat until melted. Add rice; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes until rice becomes translucent. Carefully stir in the hot tomato mixture. Cover quickly, and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Add the sausage and okra, mixing in gently with two forks. Return cover and cook 10 minutes longer over very low heat, just until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
Sprinkle shrimp lightly with salt and pepper. if desired. Stir the shrimp into the rice mixture. Cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes longer, just until shrimp is opaque. Remove from heat and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.
Hot chile peppers contain oils that may burn skin and eyes. Wear plastic or rubber gloves when handling.
To crush canned tomatoes, working over a bowl, squeeze tomatoes with your hands to break into pieces.