New England Clam Chowder

This is from the "The Best Recipe" cookbook.  They have two versions, one with fresh clams and one with canned.  I've tried both but the one I did with live clams was a disaster.  I had found clams at Costco and I don't know what was wrong about them; perhaps they were the wrong type.  I live in Nebraska and you take what you can find.  Whatever the reason, it tasted horrible and I actually threw it all out.  When I made the canned-clams version it was really quite good.

Using Canned Clams
(Note:  The Best Recipe, which tests brands as well as recipes, recommended the Doxsee Minced Clams and Doxsee brand clam juice.  I don't remember if I could find that or not)

Ingredients

4 cans minced clams 6.5oz ea, drained and juices reserved
1 cup water
2 bottles clam juice 8oz ea
4 slices thick-cut bacon (about 4 ozs), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 medium to large Spanish onion, diced medium
3 - 4 tablespoons flour
(the recipe calls for two but I prefer it thicker)
3 medium boiling potatoes (about 1-1/2lbs), scrubbed and diced medium.
1 large bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried
I cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and ground black or white pepper

Combine clam juice from bottles and drained cans with the water.  Fry bacon in kettle over medium-low heat until crisp and fat has been rendered.  Add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add flour and stir until lightly colored, about 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in clam juice mixture.  Add potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Add clams, cream, parsley, and salt if necessary, and ground pepper to taste.  Bring to simmer, remove from heat, and serve.

Using Live Clams

Ingredients

7 pounds medium-sized hard-shell clams, such as cherrystones, washed and scrubbed clean.
4 slices thick-cut bacon (about 4 ozs), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 medium to large Spanish onion, diced medium
3 - 4 tablespoons flour
(the recipe calls for two but I prefer it thicker)
3 medium boiling potatoes (about 1-1/2lbs), scrubbed and diced medium.
1 large bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon dried
I cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and ground black or white pepper

Bring clams and 3 cups water to boil in large covered soup kettle.  Steam until clams just start to open, 3 to 5 minutes.  Transfer clams to large bowl and cool slightly.  Open clams with a paring knife, holding clams over a bowl to catch any juices.  With knife, sever muscle that attaches clam to shell and transfer meat to a cutting board.  Mince clams; set aside.  Pour clam broth into 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup, holding back last few tablespoons of broth in case of sediment; set clam broth aside.  You should have about 5 cups.  Rinse and dry kettle, return to burner.

Fry bacon in kettle over medium-low heat until crisp and fat has been rendered.  Add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add flour and stir until lightly colored, about 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in reserved clam broth.  Add potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Add clams, cream, parsley, and salt if necessary, and ground pepper to taste.  Bring to simmer, remove from heat, and serve.