1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Prick the potato skins all over with a fork. Bake in the oven for about 45–50 minutes, until tender. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C).
2. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a frying pan over medium-high heat about 4 minutes until golden. Add the shallots and cook until they soften, about 1 minute more.
3. Slice off the top third of each potato, horizontally. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh into a large bowl. Reserve the hollowed-out skins and place in a lightly oiled baking dish.
4. Mash the potato with a potato masher. Add the milk and butter, and beat until smooth. Stir in the Cheddar and bacon mixture along with the parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Spoon the mixture back into the potato skins and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until the filling is heated through and golden on top. Serve hot with extra chopped parsley sprinkled on top, if desired.
Potato Skins with Crab:
Mix the mashed potato with a 16oz (168g) can crabmeat, drained, 3 chopped scallions, 1 chopped fresh small red chile, ¼ cup créme fraîche, and 2 tbsp chopped cilantro. Spoon back into the skins and bake as above.
Potato Skins with Chorizo:
Mix the mashed potato with 5oz (145g) chopped smoked chorizo, 1 ripe tomato, seeded and diced, 5oz (145g) mozzarella, diced, and 1 tbsp chopped oregano. Spoon back into the skins and bake as above.