Figones, hearty fritters made with chorizo, ham and cheese, are a very typical tapa from the Castilian town of Zamora. Not the best choice if you’re on a diet, but precisely because of that, very satisfying on a wintery, windy Castilian noon. And what could go wrong with those ingredients?
The name of figones derives from the restaurant in Zamora where this tapa was invented, called El Figón. Figón (see pronunciation here) is a somewhat outdated name for a lowly tavern. Figones soon became popular and now you can find them all over the town and the whole province.
This tapa is a crowd pleaser and so easy to make you’ll surely make it again and again. Half a slice of chorizo is rolled in a strip of cheese along with a wider strip of ham, then pierced with a toothpick making a pincho and then coated in a light batter and deep-fried in olive oil. Just try them…
- 10 chorizo slices, cut in half
- 10 sandwich ham slices, cut in half
- 5 sandwich cheese slices, cut in 4 strips
- 350 g/2,8 cups/12oz AP flour
- 33 cl/1,4 cups beer
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Salt to taste
- A pinch of baking powder
- A pinch of turmeric or saffron for color (optional)
- 500 ml/2 cups virgin olive oil for deep-frying
- Mix all the ingredients till you see no flour lumps. Cover and let rest 30 minutes. The final consistency should be similar to pancake batter.
- Cut the ham slices, sandwich size, into 2 equal strips. Then cut cheese strips of half the width of the ham. Set aside.
- Slice the chorizo and cut each slice in half.
- Arrange the chorizo slices, the cheese strips and the ham strips as shown in the photos below, one on top of the other.
- Roll the assembly and secure each roll with a toothpick.
- Pour the olive oil in a small pan and heat to medium, around 180ºC/355ºF. The oil musn't give any smoke.
- Place the bowl with the batter close to the pan and coat the rolls in batter, one by one, then dip them in the oil.
- Fry the figones in batches of not more than 3-4 until golden and crisp. Using a slotted spoon take them out to a plate covered in kitchen paper to eliminate some of the oil and serve immediately, while the coating is crispy and the cheese is melted.
Tips for perfect figones
- Making this tapa is not rocket science, don’t you think? So apart from a reasonable quality in the ingredients there isn’t much to say. Of course, we beg you not to use superb quality Iberian chorizo for this. It should be eaten on its own.
- We’re very particular about using olive oil for frying. We’re not very fond of canola, sunflower or any other suspicious fat, the flavor simply isn’t the same.
- Don’t skip the batter rest, it’s necessary for the flour to hydrate.
- Both plain flour/AP flour and strong flour/bread flour can be used in the batter, strong flour/bread flour makes for a crispier batter though.
- Depending on the flour you use, the amount of water needed to achieve a nice coating consistency may vary. When using AP flour/plain flour less liquid is needed than if using bread flour/strong flour because of their different absorption capacity.
- As it usually happens with all fried tapas, figones are at their best freshly made and hot from the pan. If prepared very much in advance the coating will lose its crispness.
We hope you enjoy these figones, chorizo, ham and cheese fritters even though they are not the best food to savour just before the summer when everybody is on a diet… but what the hell.