While I normally make this with shad roe, any tasty roe will do. See above for a full list of alternatives. Note this this recipe needs to be done with fresh roe. Pre-frozen roe loses its texture and gets fishy. Remember, the keys here are bacon and its fat, some kind of flour for the roe, something herby and something acidic. If you remember that, you can play with this recipe depending on what you have on hand.
Brine the shad roe first. Dissolve the salt in the cool water and submerge the roes in the brine for at least an hour, and up to 4 hours. The larger the roe sacs, the longer you will want to brine. I prefer 2 hours for shad, 1 for herring.
About 45 minutes before you want to cook the roe, crisp the bacon slowly. Remove from the pan (eat a slice, you earned it), and set the bacon aside. Leave about 3 tablespoons of bacon fat in the pan to cook the onions. Caramelize the onions in the bacon fat by cooking them over medium-low heat for 20 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. About 15 minutes into this process, add the thyme, a pinch of salt, and the honey if you are using it. When the onions are about done, chop up some of the bacon and add it to the pan.
While the onions are cooking, bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a pot, add a healthy pinch of salt, and sprinkle in the grits. Stir well to remove any lumps, then drop the heat to medium-low and cook the grits, stirring frequently, until they are smooth, about 20 minutes. Stir the unsalted butter into the grits and keep them warm.
To finish the dish, either get another pan or set the onions aside and wipe out the existing pan. Remove the roes from the brine and dust in flour. Add at least 3 more tablespoons of bacon fat to the pan (add some butter or oil if you are short, but you shouldn't be), and brown the roes over medium heat. Normally this takes about 5 to 8 minutes total, and remember that it's better to have slightly underdone roe than roe that's been cooked to hell.
Serve everyone some grits, with a piece of bacon on the side. Add some lemon juice and the chopped parsley to the onions and put some on top of the grits, grind black pepper over everything and give everyone some roe. Lemon wedges on the side is a nice touch.