1 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch-dice
8 thick slices of smoky bacon, cut into 1/4 inch-dice
1 large onion, minced (1 1/2 cups)
6 large celery ribs, minced
2 small bay leaves
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped dill
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
In a large pot, bring the wine and water to a boil. Add the clams, cover and cook over moderately high heat, shaking the pot a few times, until the clams open, about 8 minutes. Transfer the clams to a bowl and let cool slightly; discard any clams that do not open. Remove the clams from their shells and coarsely chop them. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve. Rinse out the pot.
In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Season generously with salt and simmer over moderate heat until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain.
Add the bacon to the large pot and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the fat has been rendered, about 7 minutes. Add the onion, celery and bay leaves and cook until the vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly stir in the milk until smooth, then stir in the cream. Add the reserved cooking liquid, stopping before you reach the grit on the bottom. Bring the chowder to a simmer over moderate heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the potatoes to the chowder and cook until heated through. Add the chopped clams and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the dill and parsley and season with salt and Tabasco. Ladle into soup bowls and serve piping hot.
The clam chowder can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat gently before serving.