For reference, here is the recipe on Food Network: Neely Food Network Clam Chowder Recipe
Here is our take on the recipe:
First, make your smoked bacon...
Home Cured Bacon, Step by Step
Then make your chowder.
3 slightly smaller cans of clams ultimately leads to more clams in the final product.
1 extra bottle of clam juice. More of that good clam flavor.
Idaho potatoes instead of the red potatoes. We feel in leads to a creamier end product.
Addition of carrots. We feel it adds a slightly sweet taste.
Low fat half and half instead of the real deal. You really don't need it at all.
Balsamic vinegar instead of cider. We feel it adds more depth of flavor.
5 Tbsp of flour instead of 3 Tbsp. We like our chowder on the thicker side.
We also simmered longer to give the mix a chance to cook down and thicken.
As for method, we kept it the same as the recipe:
Drain the canned clams over a measuring cup and reserve the juice. You will need 3 cups reserved juice in total, so add the 3 bottles of clam juice to make a total of 3 cups. (We did not drain. We added the whole can at once. Why dirty something?)
Add the bacon to the Dutch oven and saute long enough for the bacon to begin to render its fat but not begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the garlic, celery, onions, thyme, bay leaf and some salt and pepper. Saute until tender and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook until pasty and blonde. Stir in the clam juice, and then add the potatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 8 minutes.
Add the half-and-half and clams and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Season with the vinegar, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper.
Add the flour...
In goes the liquid and potatoes...
In goes the half and half and clams. Let simmer and cook down to thicken.