When meats are sautéed they need a little breathing room to brown well. If the pieces are touching each other they end up steaming or braising in the juices released by their neighbors and won’t reach a crispy brown state. When making the chili, add just a handful of the turkey pieces to start, spread them around the bottom of the pan and give them some room. You’ll see that they work up a little brown char after about 3-4 minutes. If you went heavy on the onions, you might need to remove a few to see this clearly.
Next, add all the remaining pieces. The full pound or more of turkey will cook through, but only a few pieces of the new batch will get browned. Again, this browning isn’t too important for the chili dish, but next time you’re sautéing or browning anything in a pan – meatballs, chicken pieces, shrimp, chops – give them some room and they’ll brown up better.
Picture: Onions for homemade french onion dip, nicely browned, having been given a little space.