6 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 bunch thyme or marjoram
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3 dozen littleneck clams, well-scrubbed
1/2 pound bacon, cut into small strips
1 white onion, peeled and diced
1 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup flour
1 pound Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
Chopped parsley, chervil, thyme, tarragon and/or marjoram, to taste
Salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
Cook's note: Unfortunately, chowders don't freeze very well, so you'll need to eat this one up within three days of making it.
Scald milk and cream with onion trimmings, thyme, bay leaves, and allspice. Let steep 30 minutes, then strain through a sieve and discard solids. Reserve milk broth.
Place clams in a large pot with lid, covering bottom of pot with about an inch of water. Over high heat, steam clams until they open, shaking often so they cook evenly. Cool till you can handle clams, then remove them from their shells. Discard shells. Strain clam liquor through paper-towel-lined sieve, reserving strained liquid.
Render bacon and drain, reserving about half the fat. In large soup pot, cook onion and celery in bacon fat until transparent. Add flour and stir to combine, cooking 2 to 3 minutes to get rid of raw flour taste. Add milk broth and bring to a boil. Simmer diced potato in broth about 10 minutes or until tender. Add clams with their liquor, bacon, and chopped herbs. Bring to a boil, season with salt, pepper, and cayenne, and serve immediately. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Nutritional data per serving: Calories, 403; protein, 15 grams; carbohydrates, 22 grams; fat, 29 grams; cholesterol, 105 milligrams; sodium, 312 milligrams.
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