Cannellini, or white kidney, beans are staple in my kitchen and I always try to keep several cans in the pantry. Truthfully, we usually have several cans of beans, along with a few pounds of dried beans, on hand, but cannellinis are probably my favorite. They’re creamy and readily take on the flavor of whatever they’re cooked with. I toss them with tomatoes for a quick and easy side dish and incorporate them into several different main dishes, including this simple braise with some venison merguez the I made from last summer’s axis deer.

Venison Merguez with White Beans and Kale

– 3 to 4 Tbsp. olive oil
– 2 to 3 links venison merguez or other fresh sausage
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 lb. curly kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
– 2 15 oz. cans cannellini bean, drained
– 1 cup venison stock
– 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

1. Heat the olive oil in a large, lidded pan over medium heat. When the oil is warm, add the sausage, turning to brown all sides. Transfer the sausage to a plate and keep warm.

2. If necessary, add more olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Saute the onion. Add a pinch or two of salt and stir until the onion turns translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the kale, adding a handful at a time as they wilt down. Pour in the cannellini beans, and enough stock to come just to the levels of the beans.

3. Nestle the sausages into the beans and cover. Lower the heat to a slow simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the sausage reads 155 degrees.

4. Serve with diced jalapeño for garnish.