New England Clam Chowder with Leeks and Bacon
- 36 clams in the shell, well scrubbed
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 lb. lean bacon, rind removed, coarsely chopped
- 1 leek, including tender green portions, trimmed, carefully washed and thinly sliced
- 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 2 cups light cream
- 1 lb. red potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3/4 tsp. dried thyme
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh chives
- 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley
Line a strainer with a cheesecloth and set inside a large bowl. Pour the contents of the pot into the strainer; discard any unopened clams. Set the clams and strained liquid aside separately.
Rinse out the pot, add the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and place over medium heat. Add the bacon and sauté until it just begins to brown. Add the leek and sauté until it begins to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute more.
Stirring continuously, pour in the reserved clam liquid and the cream. When the liquid reaches a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the potatoes and thyme.
Pull the clams from the shells. If they are large, cut them into 1/2-inch pieces. When the potatoes are tender, after about 15 minutes, add the clams and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes more. Season with pepper. Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with the chives and parsley.