Combine first 3 ingredients in a shallow dish. Coat roast in flour mixture.
Melt shortening in a large Dutch oven over high heat; add roast, and cook 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Add 2 cups water, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil and lid, reduce heat to low, and simmer 2 hours. Add onions and next 5 ingredients; cover with foil and lid. Cook 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until vegetables and meat are tender. Remove and discard bay leaf.
Remove meat and vegetables to a serving platter; keep warm. Pour cooking liquid through a wire-mesh strainer into a 2-cup measuring cup, discarding solids. Add water, if necessary, to equal 1 1/2 cups. Pour into a saucepan.
Whisk together 1/2 cup cold water and 1/4 cup flour. Stir into cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with meat and vegetables.
Italian Pot Roast: Substitute 1 cup low-sodium fat-free beef broth and 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano for 2 cups water. Add 1 fresh rosemary sprig and 3 fresh thyme sprigs with bay leaf. Proceed with recipe as directed.
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