New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder
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Ingredients
  1. 10 cherrystone or quahog clams
  2. 2 cups water
  3. 4 ounces chopped onions
  4. 2 ounces chopped celery
  5. 1 pinch dried thyme
  6. 4 bay leaves divided
  7. 2 whole black peppercorns
  8. 6 ounces apple-wood smoked bacon, cut into small pieces
  9. 2 large Spanish onions, medium diced
  10. 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  11. 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  12. 4 ounces unsalted butter
  13. 3 Yukon gold potatoes, washed and medium diced
  14. 2 cups heavy cream
  15. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  16. 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
  17. Oyster crackers, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Wash the clams several times in cold water. Make sure all of the clams are closed. Discard any clams that remain open after you tap on the shell. In a large pot over high heat, add 2 cups of water, the onion, celery, thyme, 1 bay leaf, and the peppercorns. Add the clams, cover and steam until all of the clams open.
  2. Remove the clams from the liquid and remove them from the shells. Chop the clams into small pieces and set aside. Strain the juice through a fine strainer and reserve.
  3. Cook the bacon in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat, until rendered and crispy. Add the onions, remaining 3 bay leaves, the thyme, crushed red pepper and butter. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add the potatoes and the reserved clam juice. Cook until potatoes are tender.
  4. Add the heavy cream and chopped clams and simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Lightly season with salt and pepper, to taste, and stir in the chopped parsley.
  5. Serve in bowls with oyster crackers.
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