While pork chops have an excellent reputation for being both affordable and delicious, there’s a fine line between cooking them to perfection and overcooking them. Luckily, much of the guesswork involved in cooking pork chops to perfection can be eliminated by cooking it in a Dutch oven. So, how long should they stew in their own juices before killing the heat?
When cooking pork chops in a Dutch oven, it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours for the meat to become fully cooked. You will know it’s cooked when the meat reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.
However, there are a ton of different factors that will affect the overall cooking time. We’ll cover each of those factors individually, as well as additional tips for making the best-tasting pork chops possible in a Dutch oven.
What Is a Dutch Oven?
First of all, we have to know the basics of a Dutch oven.
To put it simply, a Dutch oven is a large pot that is used to cook stews, sauces, and braises—virtually, any cooking method where you can infuse liquid into meats. A Dutch oven typically starts on a stovetop to sear or caramelize meats and vegetables before being transferred into an oven to finish the cooking process.
Dutch ovens can be made of cast iron, ceramic, or aluminum. The best Dutch ovens are those with thick, heat-retaining walls. So, if you don’t have a Dutch oven, you should consider picking up a cast-iron or ceramic pot.
The benefits of a Dutch oven include excellent heat conduction to promote consistent cooking, the ability to retain moisture inside the pot with a heavy-duty lid, and the versatility to move from stovetop to oven and back.
How Long Should You Cook Pork Chops in a Dutch Oven?
Whenever you cook any type of meat, including pork chops, you will have to pay close attention to how long it stays on the stovetop or inside the oven. When braising pork chops in a Dutch oven, it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours. To know whether or not your pork chops are fully cooked, check for an internal temperature of 145°F.
The thing is, cooking anything in a Dutch oven isn’t as simple as placing it on a stove or in an oven, choosing a heat level or temperature, and waiting for the timer to go off. There are several external factors that will determine how much time your pork chops should cook in a Dutch oven.
Let’s take a look at those factors next.
Dutch Oven Type
As previously stated, Dutch ovens can be made of cast iron, ceramic, or aluminum. Cast iron has the benefit of heating up quickly and retaining heat for much longer. Ceramic Dutch Ovens will take longer to heat up but can retain heat for several hours after the cooking process. Aluminum Dutch ovens heat up much more quickly than the other types while also losing heat at a higher rate.
If you take a look at different braised pork chop recipes, the authors will most likely recommend cooking it in an oven set to 400°F to complete cooking in just 15 minutes or so.
However, if you want your pork chops to stew and absorb as much liquid as possible, you should consider turning the oven down to 300° and baking for 25 to 30 minutes.
On the other hand, if you want your pork chops to cook slowly in the oven while you run errands for a few hours, you should set your oven to 200°F. That should give over 2 hours before the pork chops are ready to serve.
The way you cook the pork chop will affect how long it should stay in the Dutch oven. You are most likely not going to place a raw pork chop in a Dutch oven to cook.
To get the most out of your slab of meat, you should sear it on the stove before submerging it in a flavorful liquid. In addition, some people like a bit of crispiness on top of their pork chops. If this sounds good, then you might want to move the Dutch oven to the top rack of your oven and broil the top for 3 to 4 minutes before removing it entirely.
So, including searing and broiling, the total cooking process could range from a mere 20 minutes to slightly over 2 hours.
Bone-in vs. Boneless Pork Chops
You can pick up pork chops with the bone in or without the bone. The bone doesn’t do much for the braise or stew in terms of flavor (other than adding delicious marrow), but it will affect how long the meat should cook.
While boneless and bone-in cuts of meat will cook in the same amount of time, the bone will affect how evenly heat distributes throughout the meat, as well as insulate the surrounding meat.
So, when using bone-in pork chops, allow the meat to cook for slightly longer at a lower temperature.
Bonus Tips for Making Pork Chops in a Dutch Oven
Let’s talk about a few ways to amplify the flavor and texture of your braised pork chops.
Tenderize—Pork chops are not known for being the most tender cuts due to the muscles and connective tissues found in the meat. You can break down the muscles and connective tissues using a meat mallet or the bottom of a pan. Stick the pork chop in a Ziploc bag before giving the meat a few good whacks.
Marinate—Marinating meats is another good way to increase their tenderness while also infusing a bit of flavor into every bite. For pork chops, consider using an acidic liquid as the base for your marinade—e.g., lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk.
Brine—A brine is a bath of salted water that adds flavor and juiciness to meat. If your pork chops come out as dry as a bone, despite braising them in a flavorful liquid, then try bringing the meat in a 1:16 salt-to-water brine (1/4 cup salt and 4 cups water). Submerge the pork chops in the brine for at least 6 hours before searing.