when you're from rhode island, ordering clam chowder is almost always a disappointment. unless you're at the black pearl on bowen's wharf in newport...this is the ultimate chowder. for the full experience, you'll need a hot dog and a cold beer on the side.
**tip: fresh clams have a tablespoon or more of delicious juice released when they open. this is really important for the stock- do not let them open in cleaning. just scrub the outside shells well under cold water and place in a bowl of ice water until they're ready to cook.
2 slices bacon
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
1 lb mix red bliss/ yukon gold potatoes, diced
2 8oz bottles clam juice
2 lbs fresh littleneck clams
1 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c fresh dill, finely chopped
salt & pepper
In a deep pot, cook the bacon until seared but not crisp. Break up the bacon into pieces with a fork. Add the onion, butter and cook until soft but not browned. Add the clam juice & potatoes; simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes pierce easily with a fork. Turn up the heat to boiling and pour in all the clams. You want the clams to open into the stock to get the juices, but make sure they don't overcook (because the timing varies, I keep a bowl on the side and watch them closely- as soon as each clam starts to open, I pull it out and set aside in a bowl). When all the clams have opened, turn the heat on the stock to low; add the milk, cream, and dill. Stir gently until blended. Just before serving, add the clams back into the chowder (I leave half in the shells and chop the other half). Season with salt & fresh black pepper and serve ;-)