1 cup potatoes, diced ½ inch
1 cup celery, diced ½ inch
1 cup onion, diced ½ inch
1 cup green pepper, diced ½ inch
1 cup leeks, diced ½ inch
¾ cup chopped clams (canned or fresh)
¾ tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoon salt
¾ tablespoon whole thyme
6 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Tabasco
¾ cup sherry wine (optional)
2 cups water
¾ cup clam juice (drained from canned clams or purchased separately in can)
¾ cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
2 quarts half-and-half
Combine melted butter and flour in oven-proof container and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. In large saucepan, combine remaining ingredients except half-and-half. Simmer until potatoes are thoroughly cooked. Stir butter-flour mixture into chowder and stir until thick. Mixture will be slightly less thick than cookie dough. Remove chowder from heat. Stir in half-and-half until blended. Heat to serving temperature, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately.
Here are a few tips from my cousin Leigh:
A few tips (maybe more than a few): I almost always double the vegetables because I like more in there. Especially the potatoes.
Make sure the leeks are soft before you add the butter/flour.
I always melt the butter in the oven container, then add the flour to it. (I also love this method of cooking it in the oven, it makes it much more efficient.)
2 cans of clams give you about the right amount of clams and juice.
I never put in the Tabasco sauce and only put in 1/2 the pepper. Otherwise it's too spicy for the kids.
You might have to experiment - if it's too runny, cook more the liquid off the vegetables next time. If it's too thick, you can always add regular milk to thicken. You can even substitute the half and half with regular milk if you cook off a lot of the liquid from the vegetables.
I've never tried it without clams, but I imagine it would be just great without if you're not a seafood person. Just substitute the clam juice for water or chicken broth.