4 quarts littleneck clams, to make about 1 2/3 cups cooked and chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup water
2 ounces salt pork, finely chopped
2 cups chopped onions
3 tablespoons flour
4 1/2 cups clam broth
3 cups fish stock
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled, diced in 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups half-and-half or light cream
Oyster crackers, for serving, optional
Clean the clams well and place them in a large stock pot along with the garlic and water. Steam the clams, cooking over medium-high heat until just opened, about 6 to 10 minutes, depending upon their size. Drain and remove clams from shells, reserving the broth. Mince the clam flesh and set aside. Strain the clam broth into a bowl through coffee filters or a strainer lined with cheesecloth; reserve.
In a large, heavy pot on medium heat, cook the salt pork until crisp. Remove the cracklings with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain; set aside. Slowly cook the onions over medium-low heat in the rendered fat for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently, or until cooked through but not browned. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the reserved clam broth, 4 1/2 cups clam broth and fish stock, whisking while adding to remove any flour lumps. Increase heat to medium-high and bring the liquid to a boil, stirring. Add the potatoes, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the reserved clams, salt-pork cracklings and half-and-half. Heat the chowder until it is the temperature you prefer. Do not boil. Serve in large soup bowls with oyster crackers on the side.
Makes 8 servings.
Per serving with half-and-half: 287 calories, 46% calories from fat, 15 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 43 mg cholesterol, 25 g carbohydrates, 14 g protein, 725 mg sodium, 2 g fiber
Per serving with light cream: 326 calories, 53% calories from fat, 19 g fat, g 10 saturated fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 24 g carbohydrates, 14 g protein, 725 mg sodium, 2 g fiber