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New England Clam Chowder

1/4 pound bacon slices
2 onions, 1 small, quartered and 1 large, diced
1 bunch scallions, diced
2 celery stalks
3 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced
2 pounds fresh minced clams, rinsed well
Juice from clams plus water or wine to make 1 cup
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 - 1 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled (to your taste)
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, minced
3 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 TBSP all purpose flour
Dash of hot pepper sauce
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Bake the bacon strips in 350F oven until very crisp. Drain on paper
towel. When cool enough to handle, dice and set aside. Meanwhile,
in medium pot, simmer clams, juice and water combination, small
quartered onion, bay leaf, parsley and one-third of the amount of
thyme you will use just until cooked. Do not overcook or clams will
be tough.Strain cooking liquid through a sieve. Reserve clams and
juice separately; discard onion used in cooking clams.

Melt 2 TBSP butter in skillet. Add chopped onion and cook for 1
minute. Add the garlic, celery, scallions, some more of the thyme
and the diced bacon and cook until the vegetables are soft but not
browned, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and the reserved clam
broth and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low, cover
and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile,
in a medium saucepan, heat the milk with the cream until hot but
not boiling, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the remaining
1 TBSP butter with the flour until smooth. Whisk this paste into
the chowder, 1 teaspoon at a time, and cook until no raw flour
taste remains, about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk and cream, hot
pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rest of the thyme, salt and
pepper to taste. Stir in the reserved clams and cook until heated
through, about 1 minute. Ladle the chowder into bowls and garnish
with chopped parsley or paprika. Serve with additional butter and
hot pepper sauce, if desired.


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