The datil pepper's fruity, spicy heat is the secret ingredient in Minorcan clam chowder and, once you try it, you'll have a new appreciation for red chowder.
Take 4 ounces of salt pork and cut into small pieces. If using bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces. Plase in a soup pot and cook for 10 minutes. When the salt pork (or bacon) is browned, remove and place on a paper towel, leaving the rendered fat in the pot. Add the diced onion, green pepper, and carrots to the rendered fat and cook 5-10 minutes until the onions are translucent.
Stir in one 15-ounce can of chopped tomatoes, 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, all the seasonings (use fresh or dried) and bay leaves. Add one minced datil pepper or 2-3 teaspoons of datil hot sauce (to taste).
Next, add the 8-ounce bottle of clam juice and 2 cups of fish stock. Simmer on low heat for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, place the 2 dozen fresh clams in a colander in the sink. Lightly scrub the outside of the clams and rinse to remove any dirt or sand. Place the clams in a large pan over medium-high heat with 1/3 cup of water. Cover the pan and cook the clams for approximately 10 minutes until the clams open. Remove from stove.
Using a slotted spoon, place the clams in a colander, let drain. Throw away any unopened clams. When the clams cool, remove the meat from the shells. Chop the clam meat into bite-size pieces. Set aside. Discard clam shells.
Next, add one cup of the diced potatoes to the soup and cook approximately 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, but not mushy. Add the chopped clams and cooked salt pork. Cook just long enough for the clams and pork to be heated through - approx. 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. This soup tastes even better the next day because the flavors have had more time to meld.
If you are using canned minced clams, drain the clams, retaining the juice to use instead of the bottled clam juice. You'll have about 1 cup of clam juice from two 6.5 ounce cans of clams.