Great Lakes Calm Chowder

serves 6

3 8-oz bottles clam juice

1 lb Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons (1 oz) butter

3 thick cut slices of bacon, finely chopped

2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped

2 large stalks of celery, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

6 6 1/2-oz cans chopped calms, drained and juices reserved

3 T cornstarch

1 1/4 cups half and half

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire

1 tablespoon dry Sherry

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Tabasco sauce, optional

Chopped fresh chives

Oyster crackers

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the bottled clam juice and potatoes to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and cover.  Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, mix together the reserved clam juices and cornstarch.  Set aside.

In a large stock pot set over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the bacon and cook until the bacon begins to brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the onions, celery, garlic, and bay leaf and sauté until the vegetables soften, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the potato mixture and reserved clam juice mixture and bring to a boil.  Stir until thickened about 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the clams, half and half, Worcestershire, and Sherry.  Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Season with salt, pepper, and optional hot sauce.  Serve with a garnish of chopped fresh chives and a handful of oyster crackers.  Can be made the day before and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Bring to a slow simmer before serving. Enjoy!

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