Using a pressure cooker gives you the taste and texture of tender, slow-roasted pork chops but at microwave speeds. Microwave cooking is fast, but it typically yields rubbery meats that don't retain as much of their natural juices and flavors. Pressure cookers create a closed cooking environment that preserves the nutritional content of your foods while also making them fork-tender. You can create a pork chop dinner in a pressure cooker with as little as 6 minutes of high-pressure cooking time.
The prep work on pressure cooker pork chops is optional, but it greatly enhances the flavor of your meat. First, place your pressure cooker on the stove over high heat. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil and allow the oil and the pan to heat up. In the meantime, sprinkle your pork chops on both sides with salt, pepper and whatever other spices you prefer. Place 1 or 2 pork chops on the bottom of the pan, depending on how large the pan is, and allow them to brown for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until a brown crust forms. Take them out of the pan and place them on a plate while you add more oil and brown the remaining chops. If you're short on time, you can brown them on just one side to get a little of the flavor benefit of searing the meat.
Pressure cookers work by building up steam, which increases the heat in the pan and forces the heat into your food. Steam requires water, so you cannot cook pork chops -- or anything, for that matter -- in a pressure cooker without liquid. In this case, once you've added your pork chops to the pressure cooker, you'll need to add about 1/4 cup of water or any flavored stock or broth for each pork chop, up to 1 cup. One cup of liquid is usually enough, even if you have more than 4 chops. As a rule of thumb, remember to never fill the pressure cooker more than 2/3 full for the best and safest results.
To save even more time, you can cook your pork chops and your sides at the same time. Place your pork chops on the bottom, then add your liquid. On top, you can add carrots, potatoes, shredded cabbage, sweet potato chunks and other vegetables. It helps to cut vegetables into thick chunks -- roughly 2 inches thick, so they cook through without getting mushy. If your pressure cooker came with a rack, you can place the rack on top of the pork chops to steam your vegetables. If you'd like grains or pasta as a side, it's better to make them separately as their cooking times and the amount of liquid required are too different from what is ideal for the pork chops. Adding vegetables to the pressure cooker may increase cooking time, but only by 1 to 2 minutes.
Once you have everything in your pot, put the lid on and lock it into place. Bring it up to pressure over high heat, then reduce heat so that the pot maintains a steady pressure. Depending on the size of your cooker, it may take 5 to 10 minutes to bring it to high pressure. Once you've reached high pressure, the pork chops and any sides you added will cook in 6 to 8 minutes. After they're done, it'll likely take a minute or 2 to release the pressure so you can open the pot. If your food isn't cooked, bring the pot back up to high pressure and cook in 2-minute intervals at high pressure until the internal temperature of the meat reads higher than 145 degrees F and the vegetables, if added, are tender.
- Utah State University Extension: Meals in Minutes Using a Pressure Cooker
- Utah State University: Food Sense: Pressure Cooking
- Oklahoma State University Extension: Feeling the Pressure: Pressure Cooking
- Hip Pressure Cooking: 20-minute Pressure Cooker Pork Chops
- Food Safety.gov: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures