“Amazing,” writes one contributor to a web site called “Find Me Gluten Free,” which notes staples like chicken fried steak and cream gravy are available without gluten at Ranchman’s Café with advance notice. Ranchman’s owner, Dave Ross, discovered he was gluten-intolerant in 2001 when he was experimenting with sourdough bread cultures using high gluten flour.

“My home kitchen would make an alchemist jealous,” he says. “That is where I played with combinations of alternative flours to come up with a gluten-free solution.”

He agreed to share his gluten-free recipes for the first time with Texas Highways readers so those with dietary issues can enjoy what he calls “a Texas tradition.” Note that the breading mix consists of large quantities so it can be stored for use multiple times.

– John Lumpkin

Dave Ross’ Gluten-free Chicken Fried Steak

Breading mix

2 1-pound bags white rice flour

2 1-pound bags glutinous (sticky) rice flour

1 14-ounce bag tapioca starch

1 12-ounce package potato starch

Dump all in a new plastic bag, twist it closed and shake it thoroughly. Store in a container for future use. Asian markets are a good source for the flour and starch.

Egg wash

Beat one egg in two cups of milk. If dairy-free and egg-free is desired, substitute one can coconut milk, thinning it with ½-can of water. Otherwise, the coconut milk version will be too thick, causing crust to fall off.


1. Use 6-ounce cuts of inside round steak, ½-inch thick, removing fat and gristle. Pound cutlets with the coarse side of a tenderizing mallet until they are double in size and half as thick.

2. Preheat a deep skillet with at least ½-inch of trans-fat free canola oil or deep fryer to 375 degrees. Test with a piece of potato to determine if it is hot enough to bubble rapidly.

3. Place 2 cups of breading mix in a bread pan with 1 tablespoon salt and 2 teaspoons ground black pepper.

4. Dredge cutlets in the seasoned flour, then dip in the wash and return to the flour, pushing the flour into the steak with your fingers, making sure there are no moist spots.

5. Immediately slide the cutlets into the hot oil, frying one side until it is crispy and then turn them over to finish cooking. The steaks are done when you can lift them with a pair of tongs and they are not floppy.

Note: Use the same ingredients and method for gluten-free fried green tomatoes, fried zucchini and fried chicken strips. To obtain the browning needed with alternative gluten-free flours, cooking temperature for canola oil is higher than it would be if tradition flours were used for breading mix.

Gluten-free Cream Gravy

¼ cup garbanzo flour (use the fine variety)

¼ cup canola oil

2 cups milk

salt and pepper to taste

Heat canola oil and add flour, whisking until smooth. Do not burn. Add milk and continue whisking until it thickens and is smooth, adding hot water to thin if needed. The gravy should be thick as pancake batter. If dairy-free and egg-free cream gravy is desired, use the leftover coconut milk wash from the preparation of the steak cutlets instead of milk, combining with garbanzo flour and canola oil.

Get more Texas in your inbox

Sign up for our newsletters and never miss a moment of what’s happening around the state.