Back in the day my mom and I would mow lawns over the summers for extra money. My brother did it before me and the job was eventually handed down though there were times where we all three worked together. It was awesome for me as a kid because we would split the money 50/50 and at 20-40 bucks a lawn with and average of ten or more lawns it was like $150 to $250 every couple weeks and for a 12 year old that’s MONEY! So every other Saturday we would mow from morning until dark. The properties were for a bank that I’m assuming repossessed after folks fell short on their loans and most were in the shady parts of town. But nestled in one of those not so pristine areas was a place called Buds. Buds had about five little tables and an old diner style bar. Even the bar was small with only 4-6 stools and where we always sat. Right behind the bar was Bud and his grill. You could almost stand up on your stool lean over the bar and flip the burgers yourself. There were only two menu items that I recollect from Buds. Tiny hamburgers (which my Mom would order like 15 or 20 with grilled onions only) and chili. The hamburgers (there was no trendy name like sliders) were so small they were literally one or two bites tops. I would steal a couple/few from my Mom but the chili was where my heart was. It was this super meaty chili with maybe a couple beans. The awesomeness was in how small the beef was ground. Yeah you guessed it, tiny. Never any big chunks just the finest ground beef you’ve ever seen and oh so, oh so flavorful. Buds became a Saturday lunch favorite with my Mom and I. Not sure how she came across Buds, I think my Grandma may have gotten her hair done somewhere around there but I know she had been there before because she knew how to order those tiny burgers? Since then Buds has closed down and even if it were still there I’m not sure if it would live up to my memories.
So I was going to make chili this past weekend. My usual is bean heavy and vegetarian but I had some ground beef I needed to use up. I called up Moms to ask what she remembered about Buds chili because it was obviously the direction I wanted to take it. I figured she would have a better recollection of it since childhood memories are sometimes a little vague. She came back with “It was all meat and grease”. Her advice was to get some 70% meat and start there, lol. I went with an organic grass fed 80%. The chili turned out wonderfully. It was a cross between Buds (texture wise) and Wendy’s (taste wise) which is a very good thing in my book. Another childhood memory of mine is my grandparents taking me to Wendy’s for chili and they always would vocalize that Wendy’s had “the best” chili. Sad to say but I fully agree still to this day.
The measurements below are just what I’m remembering from over a week later but should be pretty damn close. Flavor to your own liking, the key is very fine beef, very few beans and some liquid.
I’m gonna have my Mom take a pic of Buds old storefront but until then the google map shot above shows the block where Buds used to be.
- 1 lb organic grass fed ground beef
- 1 (28 oz.) can of whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 (14 oz.) can of kidney beans
- 1 or 2 T. apple cider vinegar (we used 2!)
- 1 1/2 c. spring water
- 2 or 3 T. chili powder
- 1/2 or 1 T. cumin powder
- about 1 T. onion powder
- pinch of brown sugar or honey to your taste (optional)
- sea salt and pepper to your taste
Brown the ground beef then season with salt and pepper. While the beef is cooking remove the very top (tiny) stem part of the canned tomatoes then crush them by hand then add them and the juice to the meat. MAKE SURE THE BEEF IS GROUND AS TINY AS IT GETS BEFORE ADDING ANY INGREDIENTS AND CONTINUE TO MAKE IT SMALLER THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE PROCESS. Rinse and add the kidney beans, spices and vinegar. Add about a cup of the spring water and mix together bringing to a simmer. Cook for as long as you can wait. I transferred mine into a crock pot and left to run some errands. Add some more water if it gets to thick or dry or starts to stick. Basically do some judging for yourself it’s pretty hard to mess up chili, really.