For this Instructable you will need:
1 bottle of clam juice(8oz)
1can of minced clams in clam juice
1 small onion
1 large potato, 2 medium potatoes, or a handful of fingerlings
4oz of heavy cream
Bacon or rendered bacon fat.
Step 1: Mise En Place!
Cut your bacon into half inch slices.
Small dice your onions(1/4'x1/4'x1/4').
Peel and dice your potatoes. You want to be able to pick up each piece of potato easily with a spoon so medium dice(1/2'x1/2'x1/2') should be fine. Making sure to cut each cube roughly the same size for even cooking.
Open your can of clams so you can drain the liquid into your chowder easily.
Shred you cheddar
Measure out your cream
In a medium sized pot cook your bacon until crispy, and the fat has been rendered out. Remove the bacon to let drain.
If you're starting out with pre-rendered fat then heat it on medium heat.
Step 2: Sweat Your Onion
To sweat your onion add it to your pot and stir it around to coat it in the fat. You are not sauteing your onions and you do not want them to get any color so watch the onions while you cook and if you need to turn down the heat on your range. You want them to get soft and slippery.
I've never been a fan of the word translucent, it doesn't work for me. So when your onions look like they are about to melt like the bacon fat did, you're ready for the next step.
Step 3: Add Your Spuds
Add your potatoes to the onion and stir them around to coat them. You can let them cook a little like this for about 3 mins just to get some heat running through them. Then you will add the bottle of clam juice and the drained liquid from the can. Don't add the clams just yet.
Turn up the heat to get the liquid simmering. The starch from the potatoes is what will thicken this so you need to get it out of the spuds. Let this simmer for 20 mins, until your potato is tender. Try no to over cook them because a little bite adds texture to this.
When you think they are ready test the thickness remember that when you add the cream it will also thicken it a little but if you're not satisfied I suggest making a cornstarch slurry and adding it slowly until you've got your right consistency.
This is also the time to taste for saltiness.
Step 4: Fruits De Mer. Or: Chowder Time!
Turn your heat down to low and add the minced clams give em a little stir then add the cream. It should look delicious.
The bacon fat will rise to the top. This is not a real emulsion, but if you would like give it a wisk, being careful not to break up the potatoes. Taste again for saltiness, if it is too salty for you add about a table spoon of heavy cream and taste again.
Dole out your portions and a bit of bread if you like. Then add a heap of cheddar to the top. I like my chowder this way, its really tasty and adds a sourness that can cut some of the rich cream. If you're not using the cheddar the bacon on top will do nicely instead. I recommend both of you're feeling dangerous!
Now eat and enjoy!