Featured,  Main Course,  Recipes

Good Crud

When I was a kid we were poor. Like welfare, food stamps, free school lunches poor. I am not ashamed of this, it helped form the self-reliant and frugal person I am today.

I remember standing in line with my mother for assistance and noting that the other women and children in line did not look much like me but that was more observation than shame (Oakland CA, where we lived in the early 1970’s was predominantly African American). I remember my mom using food stamps when they were still paper coupons and not a plastic card, and shopping at the “Dented Can Store” when you could get 10 cans of corn for a dollar and who cared if they were dented? School lunch tickets were my normal.

Again, it was all ok with me because my mom was a really good cook and most of the time we ate well. There were exceptions; I still loathe liver and onions, and I remember many a beef stew that was more vegetables than meat (as a 6-year old I was mortally offended by turnips). I am fortunate in that I never went hungry as too many children still do.

One of the frequent dishes in my mother’s repertoire was a dish she called “Good Crud”. It’s a cross between a chili and a hamburger casserole and it’s both delicious and easy on the wallet. My mother never met a recipe she didn’t alter and this was no exception. The original was given to her by my father’s mother in the ’60s, name and all. It became a staple in our house. But the name still makes me cringe with embarrassment in a way the food stamps never did.

When I moved away to college, the recipe for Good Crud was in my little 3×5 index card box along with all the others I’d written down, and I made it often, much to the delight of my roommates, my boyfriend, and even his roommates. But I never wanted to call it by it’s given name and would offer it up with a quick, “Here, eat this…hamburger-corn-bean thingy…“, thrusting a steaming bowl into their hands.

I haven’t made this for a while but recently found myself with some leftover sauteed corn kernels and the rest of the ingredients on hand. It’s not hard to keep what you need for this dish in your pantry and freezer. Granted, today’s ingredients are a bit updated, but the hearty goodness in a bowl has not changed. It’s also still a frugal dish; I calculate the cost at under $1.50 a portion and that’s with some organic ingredients from places like Costco (for the ground beef) and Trader Joe’s (organic tomatoes, beans, fire-roasted corn, etc). If you shop the sales at any regular supermarket it could be less.

Nor has my embarrassment over the name changed with the years. I still found myself saying to my husband “I’m making this hamburger corn thing for dinner” and he said, “oh, you mean Good Crud?” Sigh. Yes, he was the boyfriend in college and remembers it well.

With a deep breath, I’m saying it loud and proud, here is the recipe for my mother’s Good Crud.

((whispers)) But if you have a better name suggestion, I’m all ears.

Good Crud

A hearty and warming hamburger and bean chili.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: casserole, chili, Hamburger
Servings: 12 cups


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 each yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced*
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans, 15 oz drained and rinsed
  • 10 oz frozen corn kernels**
  • 8 floz water
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin*
  • 2 floz BBQ sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt*


  • Heat a 4-6 quart soup pot and add the ground beef. Break it apart so that it starts to cook.
  • Add the diced onions and cook until the onions are soft. Add the minced garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
  • Stir in the can of diced tomatoes and then add the kidney beans and corn. Stir in the water.
  • Mix in the chili powder, cumin and BBQ sauce and bring to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Or, if the pot and lid are oven safe, place in 350 degree oven and cook.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning and salt prior to serving.


*Addition to original recipe.
**Change to original recipe. For the corn, I changed from canned to frozen kernels, specifically a fire roasted kind they sell at Trader Joe's which are really flavorful and sweet with a bit of char.
I think this dish would also work well in a crock pot, though I have not tried it.




  • Karl

    I’m thinking of adapting this recipe to use up leftover turkey and substituting navy beans for the pintos. Only problem is the name gets worse. Keeping it family friendly, the dish becomes Turkey *Crud*.

  • michelle

    love this! my mom made something very similar when i was growing up. i title everything that has beef in it some variety of cow… in this instance i might use ‘chili spiced cow and corn’ =)

  • steve M

    Good article. The aromas and flavors in mom’s kitchen of my youth in similar circumstances stays with me today. Frugal left when I went out into the world and meals can be with the working class in Singapore or the middle East or a fine table at the best steakhouses, I love it all.

    I think “Good Crud” is a phrase at home in any home or circumstance and once tasted, I’m sure all will be back for more.


  • Myra

    “Good Crud” is the perfect name – say it loud and proud! I could adapt this with what I have on hand as well. I have turkey burger, but I also have left over roast – which do you think would work better? I’d also use black beans instead of pinto.

  • Danielle

    I have a similarly embarrassing family favorite recipe called “Yum Yum”. It was a dessert made with a graham cracker crust, Dream Whip, and pie filling. I refuse to say the name of it anymore, and I still cringe when my mom says it. I think my mom would throw a fit if I tried to rename the recipe something bland and descriptive. 🙂

  • Kate

    Hmm. I’ll try your “crud” recipe; I would never have thought of BBQ sauce. I’m sure we’ll like it, too.

    It sounds like Joie’s Flatlander Chili. When I first imported her from Chicago to southern New Mexico 20 years ago, she made a batch of ‘chili’ I called hamburger soup. Over the years she’s embraced the southwest and now makes the best chili around. Sometimes the meat changes, and sometimes there are two or three kinds of beans in it. It has tons of spices including a little curry powder.
    We’ll report back when we’ve made yours. Love the back story; one of the coolest feature of many of your posts. Thanks!

  • Robbie Maloney

    wow, this was my staple diet at college more than 30 years ago. It started with dry meatballs that had reached their “best before” date and included pretty much your exact same ingredients but with more chilli, cumin and the addition of fresh chillies and oregano. Variations have included heinz baked beans instead of kidney, finely sliced chicken and even rabbit when times were tight, a veggie version for veggie friends with big chunks of celery, carrots and courgette or squash, mushrooms instead of meat, almost everything has gone in and we lovingly knew it as Rob’s chilli’ish (and we usually used worcester sauce if we had it). Thanks for a trip down memory lane.

  • Karen

    This recipe really took me back, and I’d make it tonight if I hadn’t made a pot of chili last night. I grew up working class in Southern California and money was always very tight. My mom made something similar, but with elbow macaroni. She called it goop, as in “Girls, there’s goop on the stove!” What I wouldn’t give for one more pot of goop made by Mom. Thanks for posting; I’ll definitely try it next snowstorm. And no shame on the name. We were both lucky to have resilient and strong mothers with a sense of humor.

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