How to Make It
In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain; reserve the bacon fat in the skillet. Crumble the bacon coarsely.
In a stockpot, combine the clam juice, wine and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Add the clams, cover and simmer over moderately high heat until the clams open, about 8 minutes. Transfer the clams to a large bowl and discard any unopened ones.
Strain the clam broth through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Rinse out the stockpot. Remove the clams from their shells and coarsely chop them.
In the stockpot, melt the butter with 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the corn and potatoes and cook, stirring often, until the potatoes begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Add the clam broth, cover and simmer until the corn and potatoes are very tender, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped clams, milk and cream and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the chowder into bowls, sprinkle with the bacon and serve.