In my opinion the rub for barbecue is the foundational ingredient for good barbecue, whether it is going on ribs, chicken, pork or beef. While sauce can be important, I believe that sauce should complement the meat, not ‘BE’ the flavor. There are several core ingredients to most good rubs and then there are several spices that are common to make your rub unique, yet still retain barbecue flavor.
For our discussion, we will consider barbecue as the process of slow smoking meat for several hours. Barbecue is not putting hot dogs or hamburgers on a grill and cooking quickly. Although I am a big fan of ‘grilling’ steaks, burgers and brats, this would be considered grilling to the barbecue purist. The term most often used by barbecue purists is cooking ‘low and slow’. Grilling steaks and burgers, the typical temperatures are 300 degrees and up (much higher for searing steaks). The optimal temperature for smoking is in the 225-250 degree range.