A package of skinless, boneless chicken breasts in the refrigerator or freezer makes for excellent insurance at this especially busy time of year. Sliced with the grain into thin cutlets or left whole, breast meat cooks in a flash, and with the help of a good-quality prepared ingredient or two, can be transformed in just a few minutes into a delectable supper.

CHICKEN IN GREEN GARLIC SAUCE

Use thinly sliced chicken breast cutlets or “tenders” in this quick and savory sauté. Several good brands of green salsa made with tomatillos and green chilies are available now, and they’re usually labeled as to their degree of heat, so buy mild or hot according to your taste. Serve with warm tortillas, thinly sliced cabbage and shredded cheese.

Serves 4

1½ pounds skinless boneless chicken breast tenders or cutlets

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons light olive oil

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1½ cups green salsa

½ cup chopped cilantro

Cut chicken into strips about ½-inch wide. Season on all sides with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until browned and almost cooked through on all sides, about 3 minutes. Remove to a plate, leaving drippings in the pan. Add garlic to pan drippings and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add salsa, cilantro, and ½ cup water and bring to a simmer. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan and simmer uncovered over medium heat until chicken is heated through, about 2 minutes.

CRANBERRY CHICKEN WITH SAGE

This sauté, made with thicker, juicier whole chicken breasts, features a seasonal sauce made with sweet-sour dried cranberries seasoned with sage and vinegar. A rough mash of sweet potatoes and some steamed broccoli are good accompaniments.

Serves 4

1¼ cups dried sweetened cranberries

1½ pounds skinless boneless chicken breast halves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 tablespoons butter

½ cup thinly sliced scallions with green tops

3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Pour 2 cups boiling water over dried cranberries and set aside to steep for a few minutes. Pound chicken breasts lightly to flatten evenly and cut crosswise into serving-size pieces. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat butter in a large skillet. Add chicken pieces and cook over medium-high heat until deep golden brown on the first side, about 3 minutes. Turn chicken, add scallions to the pan and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add cranberries with their soaking liquid, and the sage, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook until chicken is cooked through and liquid is somewhat reduced, 5 to 7 minutes, depending on thickness of chicken. Stir in vinegar.

Using the back of a fork, mash most of the cranberries into sauce to thicken it. Serve chicken with sauce spooned over.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides and Salads to Match.” She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:

facebook.com/brookedojny

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