My local grocery store was selling whole chickens for 85 cents a pound, which was a good 15 cents cheaper than the rest of the grocery stores in the area. (They were really trying to undercut the competition I guess.) I bought one that was slightly over 5 pounds for $4.39 and when I brought that little guy home, I meant to milk him for every cent.
I use chicken stock in so many recipes that when I buy whole chickens, I like to make my own stock. My way to make chicken stock is slightly adapted from Martha Stewart's Cooking School book.
Chicken Stock: A How-To
When I buy a whole chicken, I usually roast the chicken first, use it in another recipe and then I make chicken stock out of the carcass.
To roast the chicken, I put it in a roasting pan, tress up the legs, drizzle olive oil over the skin and sprinkle it with salt. I toss it in a 425 degree oven, stick a thermometer in the thigh area (I use the one that you can keep in the meat and hang it on your fridge) and when it hits 165 degrees, I take it out and let it cool so I can shred the meat for whatever I am using it for that day (soup, fajitas, chicken salad. etc.).
As I am shredding the chicken, I have a large stockpot next to me where I can dump the bones and skin into after I pull all of the meat off.
After you've finished getting all of the meat off and have put all of the chicken remains in the stockpot, fill it with water so it is a few inches above the highest chicken bone. Bring that to a simmer. Meanwhile prep your aromatic veggies.
2 carrots, peeled and quartered
2 stalks celery, quartered
2 onions, quartered
1 bay leaf
Once your stock begins to simmers, add your aromatic vegetables and give it a stir.
Bring it back to a simmer (and by simmer, I mean one or two bubbles should just barely break the surface -- the flame should be nice and low.) Allow that to softly simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours depending on how dark you like your chicken stock. I usually let mine go for 2 hours or so.
Place a really large bowl with a fine-meshed sieve over the top. Start removing some of the solids with a big spoon and straining the liquid through the sieve. Do not press on the solids. Pour every last drop into the bowl.
Use immediately or if you've made the stock to portion off and freeze, let it sit out to cool down substantially.
Once it's cool, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and store it overnight in the refrigerator. This is very important. After you let it sit overnight, all of the fat floats to the top (yuck!).
So when you are ready to portion it off and freeze, take a spoon and lightly skim all of the fat off of the top. Then measure it in a glass measuring cup and place in the freezer.
I usually use chicken stock in recipes (and not as a base for soup) and in recipes, I tend to use 1 cup here and 2 cups there, so I mix it up a bit. This time, I froze three, 1 cup portions, two 2 cup portions and one 1 1/2 cup portions.
So I got 8 1/2 cups of chicken stock, plus meat for two dinners for $4.39. And as my mom said: I don't think there was one last penny I could have squeezed out of this chicken!