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The Three-Meal Tailgate: Maximizing UCLA's Early Kickoff

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Tomorrow, the Bruins host the Ducks at the Rose Bowl starting at 12:30. That could throw a huge wrench in some tailgate plans, but not when you tailgate, UCLA-style!

Alright, so tomorrow, we have an early game. Have I mentioned how much I HATE 12:30 games?

It's because a 12:30 game throws a wrench into tailgating plans. Do you opt for breakfast or lunch pre-game? Do you just plan to make food post-game? Do you opt for all three or some other combination?

That's what needs to be determined in planning this week's tailgate and that's why I HATE 12:30 games.

Of course, you may have already figured out what you're doing. Flem is opting for a Duck and Oregon themed tailgate menu. So he gets a shoutout for his themed menu.

You could certainly go for the strict theme menu and grill a whole duck or at least a duck breast, hoping that, by sacrificing a real duck, the Bruins will be able to do the same. But duck is the least common form of fowl for grilling and tends to be the most fatty form of poultry.

Personally, my plan for the day will include three meals because we're planning to arrive at the Rose Bowl before 8am. So, I'll be picking up bagels and cream cheese for breakfast. But, if you're going to do this, please do it the right way by getting by purchasing a high-quality bagel. Don't opt for Western Bagels because the only thing that does is say, "I don't know what a good bagel is." Instead, Noah's is the bare minimum here. If you're in LA or the South Bay, the Bagel Factory is an even better option. If you're coming from Ventura County, Old New York Deli and Bakery has locations in Newbury Park and Camarillo and is a better option as well.

For lunch, you can opt for my ol' stand-by Spicy Smoked Tri-tip and no one will EVER complain. That's what I'll be serving for lunch around 11am.

But if you want something new and closer to a Duck theme, I would suggest making a Beer Can Chicken.

The Shopping Trip

This week's shopping trip may be the simplest yet. You will need a whole chicken and either a can of beer or, if you just can't bear to surrender a can of beer, a can of Coke or Dr. Pepper works here too.

If you don't already have a roaster for Beer Can Chicken, you should pick one up just to make life easier. You can do it without one, but having one makes it much easier.

Friday Night Prep

Yeah, with a 12:30 kickoff, you need to prep everything tonight and you should probably even load your car tonight too with everything that doesn't require refrigeration.

As for the chicken, remove the packet of giblets from the body cavity of the chicken and remove and discard the fat just inside the body and neck cavities. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water and then drain and blot dry with paper towels both inside and out. You want to use the my all-purpose barbecue rub and generously sprinkle it all over the chicken. You want to make sure you sprinkly some under the skin that covers the breasts too. Get that rub in there and work it good. You could opt to rub the chicken at the Rose Bowl if you choose, but I would suggest doing it tonight to make life easier.

Part of your pre-game prep should be to make sure that you can fit a whole chicken standing up on your grill because it would really suck if you get to the game and realize it won't fit after you get there.

And, of course, don't forget to soak your wood chips.

Tailgate Time

Just like with last week's Tri-tip, you want to light your coals and set your grill up again for indirect grilling. As a charcoal griller, I put all my lit coals on one side of my grill. The smoker box will be placed directly above the coals while my meat will go above the side without any coals.

Take you can of beer or soda. Pop it open and take a generous sip. Place it in your Beer Can Chicken roaster and place your chicken on top. Carefully place it on the grill. Be sure to pull the legs forward to give it sort of a tripod effect.

You'll want to use an instant read meat thermometer this time because we're dealing with poultry and you need to cook it until 180 degrees. You should stick the thermometer into the thigh but don't touch the bone because that will give you a false reading.

When you take it off the grill, be careful because the liquid in your can is going to be super-hot and you don't want to get burned. Let your bird rest for about 10 minutes to let the juices settle and then you'll be ready to enjoy the best chicken you'll ever have!

And, of course, let's hope that we all have Oregon Ducks for dessert!

Post-Game

The only cool thing about a 12:30 game is that you'll be out of there while it's still daylight. But, even after the game ends, you'll still be stuck on the golf course for a while. So, I'm personally planning on bringing food for a third meal. This will be something much, much simpler like hot dogs, sausages or burgers. The idea is that you're going to hungry after the game. You know it, I know it, and the American people know it. Wait out the traffic by firing the grill back up and quickly making some dinner. The emphasis on this has to be speed of cooking because, at some point, someone is probably going to ask you to leave the Rose Bowl Parking Lot and you don't want to be stuck with a half-cooked tri-tip or beer can chicken on a hot grill.

Happy Tailgating and Go Bruins!