I first got turned on to Dolly Parton when I was a little kid growing up in rural Kentucky. We got our TV signal out of Knoxville, Tennessee where Dolly was a guest performer on the Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour.

Cas Walker was a giant of a man. An absolute legend in the Smoky Mountains. He was the political boss of a formidable machine that launched him deep into Knoxville politics eventually landing him the mayor-ship of that city.

His fiery temperament and caustic political views mobilized the city council he ruled over, and they managed to get him recalled in a special vote just a few weeks after his winning bid. But not before he was featured in a photograph in Life magazine drawed back and about to punch one of the councilmen who had opposed him.

How rough and tumble was Cas? One of his rivals once said "If I ordered a whole carload of SOB's and they just sent Cas, I'd sign for the shipment." Tough guy.

He also gave Dolly Parton her start in the business. Young Dolly had rolled out of the nearby hills with a guitar and a pair of go go boots looking like a million dollars to any rube kid with an ounce of vinegar in him.

She also sang like an angel.

And by all accounts is also a very fine cook. It's her birthday today so we're honoring her by publishing her recipe for chicken and dumplings. We'll be hitting the kitchen soon to vet her work but have no doubt that it's a good one. Happy Birthday Dolly.

1 (3-lb) chicken

2 ½ tsp salt

¾ tsp pepper

1 onion, peeled and left whole

¼ cup chopped celery leaves

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading

½ tsp baking soda

3 Tbsp vegetable shortening

¾ cup milk

Servings: 6

Active Time: 30 min

Total Time: 1 hour 15 min

Method

1. Combine the chicken and 2 teaspoons of the salt with 2 quarts of water in a Dutch oven. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and add the pepper, onion, and celery leaves. Simmer the chicken until the meat falls away from the bone.

2. Remove the chicken and onion from the pot, and strain out the celery leaves. Discard the onion and celery leaves, and set the chicken aside to cool.

3. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and cut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside. Discard the skin and bones. Meanwhile, raise the heat to high and bring the broth to a boil.

4. Combine the flour, baking soda, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the shortening with a fork and knife or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

5. Gradually stir in the milk until the dough is moist. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and lightly knead for about 5 minutes.

6. Roll out to ½-inch thickness and cut into 1 ½-inch squares. Drop the pieces of dough into the boiling broth. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir gently.

7. Add the chicken back to the pot, stir, and cook until the chicken is heated through, about 8 minutes. Serve warm.

recipe source http://www.dashrecipes.com/recipes/cookbook/d/dolly-partons-chicken-and-dumplings.html

img courtesy of Tumblr.