But, I got to experimenting and I came up with a pretty darn good crockpot pot roast. "Pretty darn good pot roast" is a weak name for a recipe though, so I did a little more tweaking until I made it perfect. Here it is:
Perfect Pot Roast
2-4 pound grass-fed beef roast, suitable for slow cooking
1 leek (or substitute 1 small onion)
2 medium turnips
3 medium parsnips
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup very low sodium chicken or beef stock (or water)
1 6oz can tomato paste (no salt or sugar added, check label)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt
Dried mushrooms, 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped (optional)
Split the leek, rinse out any sand and thinly slice. Place in the bottom of your slow cooker. Peel the turnips. If you're using large parsnips (like bigger than your average carrot), then quarter them and cut out the cores. Cut all vegetables into roughly 1/2" chunks. At this point I had about 6 cups of root vegetables.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan. Brown the roast on all sides, if your roast has a fat layer on one side, start with the fat layer, so that some of it renders out into the pan. Take your roast out and place it in the slow cooker on top of the leeks. If you don't have much oil left in the pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil, then dump all the the root vegetables into the sauce pan and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the root vegetables are cooking, add to the slow cooker the balsamic vinegar, chicken or beef stock, tomato paste, pepper, oregano, salt and mushrooms. When the root vegetables are done on the stovetop, dump them into the slow cooker.
Cook for 30 minutes on high, and then 5.5-6 hours on low. Take out the pot roast and slice it to serve, alongside the vegetables. If you have leftovers this makes an awesome lunch for the rest of the week, cut the remaining meat into chunks and add it back into the veggies to make a thick stew.
Note about sodium and mushrooms: If you use the smaller amount of salt (1/4 tsp), you should really get your hands on some dried mushrooms. The umami flavor from the dried mushrooms really rounds out the flavor of the dish. Serving size will vary widely by the size of your roast, but with the 2 pound roast I usually get, I estimate it at about 260mg of sodium per serving.