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New Orleans Ham Gumbo
9 tablespoons shortening or oil
7 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1 can tomatoes -- pureed in blender (16 oz.)
1 can Spanish style tomato sauce -- (15 oz.)
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce -- optional
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh okra
2 cups cubed cooked ham -- 1/2" cubes
Melt shortening in large Dutch oven (5 qt.) over medium high heat.
Add flour; cook and brown flour, stirring constantly, until it is deep, dark brown.
Add chopped onion and diced bell pepper. Flour will stop browning when onion is added. Cook until onion turns clear, stirring occasionally.
Add tomato sauce, purred tomatoes and water; stir until smooth and boiling. Cook 3 minutes or until thickened.
Add all spices and seasoning, stirring well.
Add thin-sliced okra and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add cubed ham and continue cooking 10 minutes.
Gumbo may be prepared in a day in advance and stored in refrigerator.
Serve over scoops of fluffy white rice.
YIELD: 6 to 8 servings
NOTE: Cleaned shrimp may be substituted for all or half of ham.