Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the oil to the skillet and heat just until beginning to smoke. Brown the meat all over and sear the roast, turning as each side turns a deep mahogany, about 10 minutes. While the meat browns, put the flour into a medium bowl and whisk with about 1 1/2 cups of the chicken broth until smooth.
Crush the tomatoes through your fingers into the slow cooker; stir in their juices, 3 tablespoons of the cognac, herbes de Provence, and the 2 teaspoons salt.
Transfer the browned meat to the slow cooker. Add the remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth to the skillet; let it bubble for a minute and then stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour over the meat, then scatter the garlic, carrots, fennel, and onion over and around the meat. Pour the flour mixture over. Cover the cooker, set it on HIGH, and cook for 4 hours. Set the cooker on LOW and cook until the meat is very tender, up to 2 hours more (for a total of 6 hours). Transfer the meat to a cutting board. Skim any excess fat off the top of the sauce in the cooker.
To finish the sauce: Stir the remaining 1 tablespoon cognac, the tomato tapenade, parsley, and orange zest into the vegetables and sauce in the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Slice the meat and lay the slices down the center of a serving platter. Arrange the vegetables around the meat and spoon some sauce over the top. Serve with hot buttered egg noodles. Pass the remaining sauce.
From Food Network Kitchens Making it Easy, Meredith, 2004