Gallery: Baking Quail in Clay: Behind the Scenes at The Modern

Quail
Quail

The bird doesn't know it yet, but it will be baked en terre glaise, meaning that the delicate quail breasts are encased in clay before baking.

Ingredients
Ingredients

A seasonally-changing vegetable melody accompanies the dish, which in this case includes some beautiful spring radishes.

Ingredients
Ingredients

The dish also features morels, a prized mushroom with a honeycomb-like pattern (not to be confused with false morels!).

Ingredients
Ingredients

The quail breasts will soon be wrapped in these gorgeous grape leaves.

Ingredients
Ingredients

And last but not least, the clay. It's nontoxic, and basically the same stuff you tried to make your a mug out of for you dad when you were nine.

The quail
The quail

One last look at our beautiful birds before they get broken down.

Breaking down the quail
Breaking down the quail

The quail is carefully broken down with some serious knife skills.

Breaking down the quail
Breaking down the quail

Even the quail's toenails are trimmed, or as chef Kreuther put it, "given a manicure."

Breaking down the quail
Breaking down the quail

The breasts are carefully separated.

Breaking down the quail
Breaking down the quail

We're left with only the breasts and legs of the quail, which will be treated separately in this dish.

Wrapping the quail
Wrapping the quail

The quail breasts are stacked together and wrapped in a large grape leaf.

Wrapping the quail
Wrapping the quail

The quail, now cleverly disguised as a stuffed grape leaf, is wrapped in a strip of paper to further protect it from the clay.

The clay
The clay

Chef Kreuther kneads the clay...

The clay
The clay

...and rolls it out.

The clay
The clay

The quail is then encased between two thin sheets of clay.

Ready for baking
Ready for baking

All ready for the oven.

Macaroni gratiné
Macaroni gratiné

While the quail bakes the plating begins, starting with a ring of long wavy noodles which are topped with a rich three cheese sauce before broiling. As chef said, "it's just like mac and cheese". Well it's easily the best mac and cheese I've ever had.

Macaroni gratiné
Macaroni gratiné

But first... MOAR CHEESE. Happy, happy cheese.

Macaroni gratiné
Macaroni gratiné

After a quick trip under the broiler.

The legs
The legs

The quail legs go for a quick sear.

The legs
The legs

They get pressed between two skillets before taking a quick trip to the oven as well.

The morels
The morels

That honeycomb-like texture of the morels is perfect for soaking up the delicious wine and cream sauce that they're prepared with. They may not be the prettiest ingredient in the dish, but as flavor sponges they are so, so good.

The vegetables
The vegetables

Spring vegetables after a quick boil.

Fiddleheads
Fiddleheads

Lucky for us fiddleheads were in season, which were added to the vegetable medley.

The vegetables
The vegetables

Butter makes everything better.

The baked quail
The baked quail

The quail emerges from the oven.

The baked quail
The baked quail

And breaks free from its bindings!

The baked quail
The baked quail

The baked quail breasts.

Quail Baked
Quail Baked "En Terre Glaise"

The final presentation. It's fitting that the food of a restaurant adjoining MoMa is itself a work of art.

The finished quail legs
The finished quail legs

One last look at the perfect crispy quail legs.