Yield: 6 servings
4 ounces chopped pancetta
2 stalks celery, trimmed, strings removed , medium diced
1 medium onion, medium diced
1 pound peeled Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into ½ inch dice
3 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 pints (16 ounces each) containers fresh chopped clams, drained, with clam juice reserved (about 2 cups reserved clam juice)
1 (8 ounce) bottle clam juice
1½ cups whole milk
1½ cups light cream
6 sprigs of thyme, stemmed
2 bay leaves
Oyster crackers or croutons (optional)
In a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium high heat, cook pancetta until crispy. Remove from pot, drain on a paper towel and set aside.
Stir celery and onion into pancetta fat and sauté for approximately 5- 7 minutes, until soft and translucent, but not brown. Add the potatoes and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.
Sprinkle flour over the mixture and stir for another minute or two to cook the flour. Gradually whisk in the reserved clam juice and the bottled clam juice, making sure the total amount equal 3 cups of clam juice. Continue to whisk in the milk and light cream. Remove the thyme from stems and add to mixture along with the 2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for approximately 10 -12 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through and tender.
Stir in clams and salt and pepper (white, if available) to taste and simmer for another 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve immediately. Garnish with Oyster crackers or croutons