Question about home-cured bacon
We bought a 2.5 lb pork belly from a local farmer (organic, pastured) over the summer and it had been sitting in our chest freezer. I decided to make bacon with it using the recipe from the NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/28/dining/home-cured-bacon-recipe.html?_r=0
)I have multiple dietary restrictions and in fact, this was my first time trying pork again after nearly a year avoiding it. I used only the 2 1/2 Tbsp of kosher salt to cure it - nothing else. I followed the rest of the recipe, turning it daily in the fridge, rinsing and letting it dry in the fridge, cooking in the oven, then slicing and oven-baking the slices at 350 for about 30 minutes.
I realize that what I made wasn't actually "bacon" in the true sense of the word, but it tasted pretty legit to me! Even the fat crisped up. It was fantastic.
Anyway, the major problem was that it was pretty salty. Bordering on "too salty". We took to rinsing the slices before baking them, which helped.
I am wondering if next time I can reduce the amount of salt? Or should I soak the whole belly in water after the week curing time to reduce the saltiness?
I am also confused about the safety of how I prepared it and the fact that I didn't use curing salt (I cannot have nitrites or nitrates due to my dietary restrictions). I cooked the belly to 150 before slicing and baking the slices in the oven. Is food-borne illness or botulism a concern with preparing it this way?
Here is a picture of how it turned out: http://i.imgur.com/ueEN1.jpg
Thank you for the advice!