New England Clam Chowder
2 dozen clams
1 T. Unsalted butter
6 strips thick-cut bacon or substitute with salt pork, diced
2 leeks, tops removed, cleaned and halved, then sliced (or 1 medium onion and 2 ribs celery)
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
½ cup dry white wine
3 cups clam juice (reserved from water from strained clams)
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups half and half
Freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped parsley, for serving
In a small dutch oven or large pot, add clams and cover with water. Set over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until clams open, approximately 10 minutes. Strain clam broth through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth (to strain sand) and set aside. Remove the clams from shell and chop into bits the size of the bacon dice and set aside.
Rinse out the pan and return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add butter and diced bacon and cook until bacon is browned, approximately 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and remove bacon to a plate and set aside.
Add leeks (or onion and celery) to the pan until they are soft but not brown about 10 minutes. Stir in potatoes and wine and cook until wine has evaporated.
Add the clam broth just to cover the potatoes. Add thyme and bay leaf.
Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add the diced clams, bacon and half and half. Add black pepper to taste. Do not let the chowder boil. Let it come to a simmer and then turn off burner.
The chowder should sit for flavors to blend. Reheat to a bare simmer before serving and garnish with chopped parsley and oyster crackers.
Add a dash of Tabasco sauce.