Slideshow: 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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.