Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Chef Ken Oringer has been blanketing Boston with great food for a decade. His latest venture, a Mexican tacqueria named La Verdad, is located right behind Fenway Park. And his fifth restaurant — a steakhouse, KO Prime — is opening later this week. He's got a lot on his plate, so to speak.

But Oringer was more than happy to tackle our tough assignment — to come up with a fabulous and filling Cinco de Mayo Mexican-themed dinner for four that costs less than $40. Not possible? OK, we didn't factor in the cost of margaritas or cervezas (beers), but you'll start your celebration with some spicy grilled corn, after which you'll grill some skirt steak for Carne Asada Torta (basically, tricked-out steak sandwiches). For dessert, there are mangoes served like you've never had them before (unless, of course, you've traveled South of the Border).

Oringer holds a degree from Bryant College in Rhode Island. He also graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, where he was voted "Most Likely to Succeed." After graduating, he worked for chefs David Burke and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. After several years in San Francisco, he headed back east and in 1997 opened Clio in Boston's Back Bay area, which soon won a slew of awards and a four-star review from the Boston Herald.

In 2002, he opened his celebrated sashimi bar, Uni, in the lounge at Clio. He tried his hand at Spanish Tapas three years later with Toro in the South End. Now with the addition of La Verdad and KO Prime, Oringer's got his own Boston food empire.

4 ears corn, husked
8 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 cup cotija or parmesan cheese, grated fine or crumbled
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
2 limes, cut into wedges

  1. Prepare hot grill or grill pan. Grill corn, rolling until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove corn from grill and brush on mayo. Roll in cheese and dust with cayenne.
  3. Serve with lime wedges.

Marinade Ingredients:
1 pound skirt steak, cleaned
1 can cola
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper

  1. Combine all ingredients and marinate steak for four hours in the refrigerator.
  2. Prepare a hot grill and grill meat until medium rare, about 5 minutes a side.
  3. Remove from grill and slice.

Torta Ingredients:
1 pound grilled, sliced skirt steak
1 can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
1 pound oxaxa cheese, sliced
1 can refried black beans
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 bunch cilantro
4 hard rolls, preferably sesame, split and toasted

To assemble tortas:

  1. Drain adobo sauce from chilies; reserve chilies for another use. Combine liquid with the molasses.
  2. Spread the molasses mixture and the mayonnaise on rolls. Use a spatula to spread room-temperature refried beans on rolls. Layer in the remaining ingredients and serve as a sandwich.

2 mangos, peeled and cut into strips
1 tsp kosher salt
2 limes, cut into wedges
1 tsp ground arbol chili powder
1 tsp ground cayenne chili powder

  1. Place mango in bowl.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and chili powders. Squeeze lime on top and serve with toothpicks.