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What do you/would you pay for small game?

How much would you pay for small game? And if you are getting it, are you going to a supermarket, butcher, or other source?

At a local co-op store, I can get rabbit for $12/pound. Another local store had them recently at $32 for the rabbit. A local butcher recently had pheasant available for $13/pound. These prices seem absolutely outlandish to me. I'm curious how they compare to what others are seeing. (Curious--I still won't pay $12/pound for rabbit, even if you are paying $15/pound.)

After getting back to eating meat a few years ago, I've tried to branch out from more common meats of my pre-vegetarian days. For a while I was able to enjoy rabbit quite a bit, but I've lost my connection for affordable rabbit (I was getting a whole rabbit from free to $10).

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  1. I suppose a lot of it depends on where you are. Here in SoCal most of the frozen rabbit is from China and typically sells for about $8/lb., or did last time I was shopping for it. I understand that some live-poultry houses in L.A. County have rabbits which they'll slaughter and clean for you, but I've not investigated that. Domestic recipe-ready rabbit at the better butcher shops is priced pretty much as you've noticed.

    "Small game" is something of a misnomer, as only captive-raised birds and small animals can be legally sold in the US. Back where I came from, rabbits and squirrels (which get really big in Illinois!) are commonly hunted, but by law can't be sold, nor can wild birds.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Will Owen

      Good point on the misnomer, Will.

      The cost amazes me. In part I suppose because these are the foods we had in my childhood--along with squirrel--that we knew signaled that times were really tough. My southside Chicago-raised dad would go out and shoot us a bird or squirrel or rabbit because we couldn't afford "real" meat. Now rabbit is 3x the cost of my "happy" local chicken.

    2. Have you thought about raising your own rabbits to butcher? As a kid I raised rabbits, really pretty easy, I admit we didn't butcher them, and I admit some of them would have been better off butchered after I lost interest...haven't thought of that screwup in 40 years....
      I do not know about he food to meat conversions needed to get to butchering size...but with kitchen scraps it might be worth while if you eat fresh fruits and veggies and have a source of "hay".

      Just don't name the lil critters!!!

      3 Replies
      1. re: Raffles

        I'm not sure what the city ordinances are where I live, but I'm an apartment dweller and know it would not fly in my current space.

        It was a friend of a coworker of my now ex who was doing just that and serving as my supplier for the free to $10/whole rabbit.

        1. re: debbiel

          You might be surprised at how small a space you need.... maybe not free range but doable in a 2x4 foot dog crate....if you don't think veals....

          1. re: Raffles

            Oh--wouldn't fly as in it would be in violation of my lease to have animals, whether as pets or as future food.

      2. I just recently saw rabbit at my butcher shop for 6.99 a pound. I thought that was fair.

        13 Replies
        1. re: suzigirl

          I would pay that. I'm on my way.. :)

          1. re: debbiel

            I am trying to convince my bf to come to the dark side. I haven't had rabbit in years.

            1. re: suzigirl

              I made a killer rabbit ragu about a month ago. With my last rabbit (sigh). And had lots of different rabbit dishes in my travels in Spain the last couple years.

              1. re: debbiel

                We raised rabbits as a cheap protein when I was a child. My mom always fried it because she wasn't an adventurous cook.
                I would love it if you could give me a rundown of the ragu. I might talk him into a ragu.

                1. re: suzigirl

                  Oh, shoot. I didn't use a recipe, and even I wish I had tracked it a bit more. Season rabbit pieces (I think mine was cut in 8 pieces), dredge through flour and shake off excess. Brown in heavy pan (I used one of my le creuset) in olive oil. Remove rabbit. Slowly cook celery, onion, carrot in pan. Here's where I don't remember--did I or did I not add tomato at this point. I considered it. I *think* I opted not to but don't recall. Add a bit of a bottle of red wine (white would also work mind you and may be more common, but it was dead of winter and the warmth of red was appealing) to lift everything off the pan bottom. Add rabbit back in. Pour in rest of bottle and add some chicken stock. Simmer for...some time. (maybe an hour? 1.5 hours? I'm so helpful!). When rabbit cooked, remove and cool. Simmer sauce down a bit (maybe about 15 minutes--nice and thick). Pull rabbit meat off bones, shred with your hands, add back in to sauce.

                  Someone with better cooking chops and knowledge could improve that description a LOT with their knowledge of how to braise and how to make a ragu. I can't recall what herbs I included, nor the amounts on veggies. I winged it, and it was good. :)

                  I wanted to serve it over papparadelle but could not find any and didn't want to make it. I ended up serving it over polenta. Fantastic.

                  1. re: debbiel

                    That works perfect for me. I cook exactly the same way, by feel. It sounds delicious.

                    1. re: debbiel

                      I wish it were available at an affordable price. I have been able to find a somewhat *local* purveyor. But come on $30.00--$35.00 for a small farm raised rabbit?

                      1. re: debbiel

                        I definitely think a long braise is the way to go.

                        1. re: debbiel

                          Now I'm drooling into my coffee. :)

                        2. re: suzigirl

                          Dusted with seasoned flour and fried in bacon grease and probably lard or tallow knowing my late mom. I know she used some bacon grease. So delicious.

                      2. re: suzigirl

                        Once upon a time, a long time ago, my kids requested braised rabbit for Easter dinner :) They like food :)

                    2. re: suzigirl

                      Last year I asked at WF if they had rabbit and they said they hadn't yet been able to find a supplier that raised them in the way that WF demands of their meat sources.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I have a decent butcher here. I will find out about them first. More than likely, they are locally raised.

                    3. This could be a whole nother thread about preppers raising food....

                      3 Replies
                        1. re: c oliver

                          perhaps my spelling... doomsday prepared persons...independent of all collapsed civilization....or someone with a huge root cellar and pantry...

                      1. For good wild game I rarely quibble on price. Things like duck, rabbit and quail are "sometimes foods" for us, mostly special occasion foods and not something we eat or want to eat on an every day basis.

                        Deer/venison is another matter. We could eat it weekly. My regular source of fresh now only hunts for himself. I often balk at the prices I see at specialty butchers since I know the real cost and have no idea of the source.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: foodieX2

                          I checked thinking that you must live outside the US but it appears not. Wild game can't be sold legally in the US. You can kill for your personal consumption but not sell it.

                          http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/conn...

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Sorry that I wasnt clear. There are a number of markets here that sell "farmed" venison, duck, etc. However I know a number of hunters who sell what they bag and I rarely quibble on price. They have done the work and the chance of us getting caught "breaking the law" is minimal. Its worth it for good game! But the farmed venison isn't worth the price, at least to me.

                            1. re: foodieX2

                              Ah, thanks for clarifying. I understand. My father hunted quail and dove. He said he could have bought from the finest game purveyor for less than it cost him per bird :) You had to have the dog(s), the guns, the ammo, the jeep, etc.