TableTalk: Wyoming Meat Market's Shelbi Nation Shares How to Make Your Next Tailgating Party Fancy AF

There's no reason to half-ass your tailgating eats.

Aug 17, 2022 at 11:46 am
click to enlarge TableTalk: Wyoming Meat Market's Shelbi Nation Shares How to Make Your Next Tailgating Party Fancy AF
Photo provided by Shelbi Nation

Shelbi Nation, owner of Wyoming Meat Market, can often be found doing one of two things on the job: breaking down a full wagyu cow on the market’s chopping block, or outside, grilling up those magnificent cuts. She’s ambitious, sensible and hard-working, yet enthusiastically indulgent when the time’s right.

Nation is a promising culinary entrepreneur who’s made it a priority to expand her business in Wyoming after acquiring the meat market early in 2021 from longtime proprietor Jim Gelhausen, who stayed on to work with Nation in the transition. She’s since given the market a facelift with new refrigerated display cases, a dry-aging locker, a retail selection of natural wines and, soon, a bar inside the market that’s set to offer inexpensive Euro beer and shot combos, along with heavy aperitivo cocktails.

With tailgating season in full effect, there’s no reason to half-ass the eats these days, especially considering the abundance of top-notch meat available at a market like Nation’s. With a little bit of preparation, the chef can enjoy the party right alongside everyone else while providing some of the best imaginable grilled and chilled dishes with minimal effort on game day.

CityBeat: If you’re at a tailgate, who are you rooting for?

Shelbi Nation: Who Dey or Cowboys. I’m from Texas, but Joe Burrow's got me. I’m a Who Dey-er.

CB: What have you been cooking lately?

SN: We grill out and host wine parties all the time … I feel like that’s all I do. I don’t cook up burgers and hot dogs, but I can think of a few things I’m really into right now. One of them is baby back ribs, but I do an Asian sticky style. What’s fun about that is I’ll pre-cook them in a super herbaceous spiced broth. I’ll boil the ribs the day before, so it’s all cooked up and I’ll let it set up in that gelatin broth. Then, when everyone comes over, or I go to a tailgate, I’ll just pat them up. They’re already cooked, then I do this Asian hoisin chili oil with a little bit of garlic and lime juice. I’ll throw the pork ribs on the grill, they’re already 100% cooked, so I’m just getting that sticky charred flavor on the ribs. That’s a super fun one.

CB: Could you do that with other cuts, too?

SN: I’ll even do tomahawks, because a lot of the time I do a smorgasbord of meats. I confit my chicken wings before the party. It’s all about making cocktails, getting the wine started, getting that party started as the host. When already preparing your protein, it’s like a quick pickup. It’s a lot of fun, instead of stressing yourself out. When the party starts, all I do is go out there with the tomahawk, char-char and everyone’s oohing and aahing while I look like a rock star. If you already have a chimichurri sauce, or even just Maldon [flaky sea salt] and olive oil, you’re done.

[Note from the editor: Confit is a method of food preparation where the ingredients are cooked at low temperatures in melted fat, typically beef fat in Nation’s case since, in her line of work as a butcher, she comes across tallow in abundance].

CB: What kinds of sides go well with these smoky, savory proteins?

SN: I always like Asian slaws with sesame, soy and cabbage with a little bit of fresh lime juice. I’m kind of classic. I like potato salads, the red skin ones with whole grain mustard, nice mayonnaise, lots of celery. I’m from Texas, so I like doing beans, too. Beans are so easy to cook, you’re just soaking them overnight and then cook them – tons of paprika, cumin, onions, garlic, water and just letting those simmer. I like grilling corn, using those fresh ingredients. We’ll just cut up tomatoes, olive oil, sea salt, fresh herbs – that’s a side dish. In summertime just keep it simple. You don’t have to go crazy for good food.

CB: You mentioned cocktails and wine. How do you like to serve that?

SN: Starting the party I like soda water, Campari and lemons and oranges as a starter because it’s low ABV and gets everyone going. Then you can start doing that negroni situation, throw some gin in it just to amp it up. Then, I love natty wine. It’s fun to play with all that acidity and [grape] skin contact. Orange wine in the summertime, or those funky reds you can chill.

CB: What’s for dessert?

SN: I like cream pie. I’m a purist when it comes to that, it’s my favorite. Custardy. You could do wafers with a fresh banana, whipped cream. Stuff like that. I love tapioca pudding, soaking the pearls and doing that with milk, sugar, a little bit of nutmeg, cinnamon. That’s what my grandma used to make us.

Wyoming Meat Market is located at 513 Wyoming Ave. in Wyoming. More info:

Stay connected with CityBeat. Subscribe to our newsletters, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google News, Apple News and Reddit.

Send CityBeat a news or story tip or submit a calendar event.