Peppered Roast Rub
Generously season all sides of roast with Peppered Roast rub. If time allows, let roast marinate in fridge for an hour. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat, then add a small amount of olive oil.
Sauté onions until they are golden brown, then place roast in sauté pan and sear each side of the meat, cooking for just a few minutes on each side. Add sautéed onions, roast and remaining chopped vegetables to crock-pot.
Add water to sauté pan and deglaze pan to remove all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan to create a rich flavorful broth. Add the broth to the crock-pot along with additional water to bring the water level up to the top of the roast. Cook on high for one hour, then on low for 4-5 hours.
Strain liquid from meat and vegetables and thicken with arrowroot powder to make a gravy (I avoid cornstarch and use arrowroot powder as a replacement for a thickener. See below for more information). To thicken with arrowroot powder, create a slurry with 4 TBSP of room temperature water and 2 TBSP of arrowroot powder. Mix to dissolve. Wisk into 2 cups of liquid and simmer until thickened.
About Arrowroot powder:
Arrowroot powder has several advantages over cornstarch. It has a more neutral flavor, so it's a good thickener for delicately flavored sauces. It also works at a lower temperature, and tolerates acidic ingredients and prolonged cooking better. And while sauces thickened with cornstarch turn into a spongy mess if they're frozen, those made with arrowroot can be frozen and thawed with impunity. Flour is a better thickener for dairy-based sauces, since arrowroot powder will turn a dairy based sauce slimy. Arrowroot powder can be found at most health food or baking supply stores sold in bulk. Use 1 TBSP to thicken 1 cup of liquid. Resources: http://www.foodsubs.com/ThickenStarch.html