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Marinades, Sauces, Rubs & Salsas

Cinnamon-Orange Marinade


This marinade comes from the Caucasus Mountains in the Republic of Georgia, where it’s used to flavor a game hen dish called tabaka. I first sampled it at an imperial Russian restaurant in the Boston of my youth called The Hermitage and while I’ve eaten it many times since then, I’ve never had a tabaka I liked quite as much.


Cinnamon-Orange Marinade

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Makes 2 cups, enough for 4 Cornish game hens, 1 chicken, or 2 to 3 pounds of meat


  • 3 oranges
  • 2 limes
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches each)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and flattened with the side of a cleaver
  • 3 slices (each ¼ inch thick) fresh ginger, peeled and crushed with the side of a cleaver
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 medium-size onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (sea or kosher), or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Recipe Steps

1: Using a vegetable peeler, remove 1 strip of orange zest, 1 strip of lime zest, and 1 strip of lemon zest and set aside. Juice the oranges, limes, and lemon. Combined you should have 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups of juice.

2: Place the juices and zests, the wine, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, and pepper in a heavy nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture is reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes.

3: Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in the onion, paprika, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, and oil. Use within a few hours of making.

Recipe Tips

Arrange the meat or fish in a glass baking dish. Pour the marinade over the meat, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for as little as 4 hours or as long as overnight (the longer the better), turning once or twice.

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