I love clam chowder. I don't recall when I first tasted this recipe, but, I understand clam chowder and Boston are like two peas in the same pod. Clam chowder is cream-based, with clam liquor, smoky bacon and an abundance of clams and potato pieces.
10 lb. clams in the shell, preferably cherrystone, scrubbed
4 oz. thick-cut bacon, finely chopped
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. finely chopped thyme leaves
2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
2½ lb. new potatoes, cut into ¼" cubes
2 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Oyster crackers and hot sauce, for serving
1. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a 7-8 qt. saucepan on high heat. Add clams, and cook until clams are steamed open, about 8-12 minutes (toss any clams that don't open). Remove from heat, and let cool. Remove clam meat from shells, and; set aside. Pour cooking liquid from pan through a fine strainer into (you will have approximately 6 cups; or, add enough water to make 6 cups); set aside.
2. Heat bacon in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until its fat renders and bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes. Add butter, thyme, onions, and bay leaves, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add reserved cooking liquid and potatoes, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring, until potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Add chopped clam meat and cream; cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve with diagonally sliced bagette and a cooled, crisp "0" white wine.