Hi chowhounders - making an attempt at Julia's Poulet Roti, but I'm running into two questions. First of all, is a roasting pan absolutely necessary, or could I improvise? As in cast iron skillet, enamel dutch oven, deep walled cookie sheet? Positives and negatives to each of the previously listed? Potentially willing to shell out the money for the roasting pan, but would like to have a convincing reason first. Also, using the rotate and baste method Julia describes in MTAOFC, does she imply that the bird would be resting on a V or U rack, or is it directly on the pan? I could figure out a rig for the rack on one of the previously mentioned cooking vessels if needed. Also, any advice past what Julia mentions in the book?
Any of the vessels you listed would work, as long as it's large enough to hold the bird comfortably and you have enough depth to hold all the liquids. I'd choose the deep walled cookie sheet.
I don't' believe Julia implied that the bird be resting on a rack. The decidedly French method I've witnessed didn't use a rack. If you want to use a rack and don't have one suitable, just cut some lengths of foil, roll/fold them up to about 1 1/2 inches in width and bend them into a zigzag shape to lay on the bottom of your baking vessel.
If we all adopted Julia's attitude about French cooking we'd relax, take things as they come, improvise and enjoy the experience, and not take ourselves too seriously; learning from any mistakes that we might make.
I watched her from 1962 until she went off the air and I tried very hard to watch every guest appearance she ever provided. She taught me a lot. I wish she was still around.