Heat a wide skillet over medium high heat. Generously salt and pepper all sides of the roast. I would say I use somewhere between 1 and 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and about a teaspoon of pepper.
Add 1 tablespoon oil to the hot pan and swirl around to coat the bottom. It should be shimmery right away if your pan is hot enough.
Add the roast to the pan and don't move it for about 1-2 minutes. Check to make sure it is nice and brown, then flip it over and repeat on the other side. Brown every side of your roast that you can. It should not take more than 5-6 minutes.
Transfer the roast to your slow cooker (6 quart or larger).
Keep the hot pan on the stove and add the water and beef base. Stir, breaking up any brown bits on the pan, until the beef base is dissolved. Pour the liquid into the slow cooker.
Sprinkle the roast with the dried thyme or add the fresh thyme. (Just throw the sprig in the pot)
Add the bay leaf.
Dump the 2 packets of onion soup mix directly on the roast (not in the water). Use your hand to rub the dry powder into the part of the roast that is exposed. Some of it will just fall off into the water, and that's fine.
Cover with the lid and set to low heat. Cook for 8-10 hours. If you are a bit short on time, you can turn the slow cooker on to "high" for one hour to get things boiling, then turn back down to low. I do NOT recommend cooking this on high for 4-5 hours. You can if you want, it will be cooked, but it will not be as tender!
If you are not browning the meat, it's so easy. Salt and pepper the meat, rub on the thyme and onion soup mix, and place in a slow cooker. You don't need the oil. Add all the other ingredients, set it on low, and you're done!
Add the carrots: about 3 hours before you want to eat, add the peeled and chopped carrots. See photos, they don't need to be tiny pieces, I tend to like the bigger chunks myself.
When the meat is fork tender and easy to shred, carefully remove it to a cutting board and let rest for a couple minutes. Then shred with two forks or slice with a serrated knife against the grain. Transfer the roast and the carrots to a serving platter and keep warm. (Taste a carrot to see if it needs salt and pepper)
To make the gravy: Use a fat separator
to get the fat from the top of the drippings. Discard fat and add the drippings to a medium saucepan. Turn the heat to high. (Use all of the drippings that you have, up to 3 cups. You want about 4 cups of liquid going into your gravy, and at least one cup needs to be COLD water to dissolve the flour.)
In a measuring cup, whisk together 1-2 cups COLD water (or beef stock, if you're not using beef base) with the flour. Make sure you get rid of all the lumps.
When the drippings have heated to a boil, slowly stir in the flour mixture while stirring. Add the beef base and bring the mixture to a low boil.
Let the gravy simmer for 3-5 minutes until it has thickened.
At this point you can add the butter if you want. It's not necessary, but it does add some richness that I love. Season with salt and pepper. Make sure you taste it first!
Devour, preferably with these Famous Creamy Mashed Potatoes
. To die for!!